Depression is a serious mental health condition that impacts millions of people throughout the world. In fact, 7.1% of all adults in the U.S. experienced an episode of major depression in 2017. This amounts to approximately 17.3 million people and may include your own friends and family members.1
Although depression affects many people, not everyone gets help. In 2017, an estimated 35% of adults with a major depressive episode did not get treatment. Without treatment, depression can lead to a number of problems including everything from relationship issues to substance abuse. Although the month of October is Depression Awareness Month, raising awareness on depression is something that should be done throughout the year to help those in need get the treatment they deserve.
A mood disorder, depression is most often characterized by feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in once enjoyable activities. This mental health disorder can affect behavior, physical health, personal relationships, professional life, and more.
Some symptoms of depression may include:
- Feelings of sadness, melancholy, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Trouble thinking, concentrating or remembering things
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Unexplained physical symptoms, such as headaches
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Although depression can be severe, there are effective treatment options available. Through a combination of medication and psychotherapy, many people with depression can improve their condition and manage their symptoms.
The Importance of Depression Awareness
Unfortunately, when depression goes untreated, the consequences can be severe. Those who do not get treatment may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping, but this type of behavior can become habitual. Eventually, they may need addiction treatment for their substance abuse on top of help for their depression. There is also the potential for suicidal idealization or suicidal behavior. Early treatment and intervention may help some people avoid these problems.
Because of the lack of depression awareness, there are also many dangerous misconceptions surrounding depression that may prevent someone from seeking care. Some people believe that people suffering from depression simply need to “snap out of it.” Other people may see depression as a form of weakness. Both of these harmful views may prevent someone from getting the professional help they need.
There also seems to be a lack of general knowledge and awareness about depression, specifically surrounding symptoms and treatments available. Raising awareness on depression and spreading accurate information is essential to breaking down this misinformation and getting people help.
How to Raise Awareness About Depression
With so many people suffering, there is never a bad time to get involved with depression awareness. Doing so could save yourself or a loved one from living with debilitating depression or watching someone else struggle with this mental health disorder.
Some ways you can help raise awareness on depression include:
- Educating yourself on depression including its symptoms and treatment
- Sharing informative resources on depression with others
- Speaking up against harmful stereotypes or misconceptions
- Sharing your personal experiences with depression or how you watched a loved one struggle with depression
- Trying to get people formal and professional treatment for depression
- Getting those in need into co-occurring disorder treatment
If left alone, depression could have devastating results. Do your part to raise awareness on depression so that those in need can find relief.
1. National Institute of Health - Major Depression