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Depressed People: Facts about Depression

Updated on February 19, 2013

Facts about Depression:

Over 300 million people throughout the world suffer from depression annually. That is a staggering figure. Depression isn’t just a temporary feeling of sadness caused by a circumstance. It can be a life threatening illness that leads to suicide if untreated.

While many of us suffer from periods of melancholy, a person who is clinically depressed may not be able to function in several areas of his life. Work suffers, there is a loss of interest in activities, appetite may diminish and the person may experience vague, somatic conditions. There may be difficulty falling asleep, or perhaps sleep extended periods of time.

There are varying degrees of depression, which is why it is important, if you suspect that you have a depressed mood; or if there is someone close to you experiencing these symptoms, that you seek professional help. A psychiatrist or trained mental health professional would be able to make a clear diagnosis.

How someone suffering from depression may view their world

Gray clouds cover the world.
Gray clouds cover the world. | Source

Types of Depression

With Major Depressive Disorder, a person will experience anhedonia, insomnia, loss of appetite, hopelessness, helplessness, and may not feel that life is worth living. It may seem a chore to get out of bed, due to a low energy and chronic sadness. People who have been diagnosed with MDD may need to start on an anti-depressant medication as a way to elevate the mood.

Dysthymic Disorder is close to the Major Depressive Disorder; however, it is best described as an ongoing melancholy. Someone suffering from Dysthymic Disorder will feel a weight on her shoulders, negativity and a lack of joy in her life. If there was a color for their world it would be gray.

Manic – Depressive Disorder is an illness that is characterized by the highs, (mania), and lows, (depression), that a person experiences. The cycling of this disease can cause great dysfunction and chaos for all who are involved with someone in a manic state. Often, when someone suffering from the upswing of a Manic-Depressive Disorder is stabilized there is a sense of ‘flattening’ of the emotions. What is ‘normal’ for most people seem mundane to a person who has been euphoric. There is great risk for people with a manic-depressive Disorder to slide off of the medications that stabilize them because there is such energy while ‘high’, in comparison to the low.

When someone who is manic-depressive goes to the other side of the spectrum, it is a dangerous place emotionally and they are at great risk of suicide. The darkness seems overwhelming and endless. Hopelessness can seem to last forever and the lack of energy is in stark comparison to when he is experiencing mania.

Preventing a Suicide Attempt

It is important, as a support person, not to minimize what the person is experiencing. Encourage the person to take medications as prescribed, and to see their Doctor regularly. What may seem like a simple disappointment in the average person’s life may be a ‘big deal’ to someone who is suffering from depression.

If the person you know is talking about suicide, ending her life, not wanting to live, giving up, etc. take her seriously. Inpatient hospitalization may be what is required. Being a friend doesn’t mean going along with what the other person wants you to do, necessarily. Sometimes, it means taking action-you just might save a life.

If the person does not say anything overtly about suicide, watch for signs that indicate that he may be planning to end his life, such as: giving away possessions; making burial arrangements, or looking at funeral items on the internet, etc. Increasingly isolated is another indicator of a possible suicidal plan, especially if it is followed by a sudden burst of energy, calmness, or cheerfulness. It may indicate that his plan is in place and he is moving toward a final act.

Don’t be embarrassed to act on the overly cautious side with someone who you may suspect is having suicidal thoughts. Again, you may save a life. It is our nature to go into survival mode, so most people who have the idea that killing themselves is the right thing to do, usually do not want to die and are attempting to reach out for help.

If you, or someone you know, may be suffering from depression please seek help for an evaluation. There are many things that may aid in lifting your mood along with medications. However, sometimes a depression is so severe that it is almost impossible to pull oneself out of this misery without a jump start from medications.

Crisis Helpline

If you suspect that a friend or family member is in need of immediate help call your local crisis line for support. If there is no crisis help line, and there is an imminent danger, call 911 for assistance.

For those who suffer from mental illness the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is a national support group in the United States. You can call your regional branch to receive information for meetings.


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you for reading and commenting on this article, sandcastles.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good article.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! Thank you cclitgirl, for the wonderful comment. I appreciate that you took the time to read the hub and found it helpful. Many blessings.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      9 years ago from Western NC

      Thanks for this informative hub. :) I like the way you differentiated the different types of depression. It's a scary problem and too many are afflicted with it in our society. We need to move toward a better understanding and it starts with wonderful people like you sharing this information. Voted up and useful.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you for visiting the Hub, Vinaya. It is a sad fact that ignorance continues to bring misconceptions about mental illness. You are correct in linking the literacy rate and the cultural folklore beliefs.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      9 years ago from Nepal

      Literacy rate is just at 50 percent in Nepal and many people usually think depression is caused by dark spirits. Thanks for this useful hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Raciniwa-I'm glad you did check it out, as suggested, and found it helpful. I wish you many blessings on your journey through depression. It can be done. I invite you to read my other pieces...especially: Soul Work: JOY which may bring a smile to your face.

    • raciniwa profile image


      9 years ago from Talisay City, Cebu

      this is a very helpful article...thank you Denise...

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Gail. Thank you for your comments. It means a great deal to me, coming from a fellow nurse who is also an 'expert' in what she does. The whole work situation I recently experienced really has shaken up much of my thoughts and beliefs about my capabilities. It is unfortunate that I have had to steady myself in this way and regroup because of it. Thanks again. :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Excellent, comprehensive hub on a topic that's close to my heart as my Mom suffers from manic-depression and depression runs in our family. Mom is 80 now and is also in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She lives in an assisted living residence and still has times when she needs to be transferred to the Senior Behavioral Health inpatient unit at a nearby hospital for adjustments in her medications.

      Your education and experience as a psychiatric nurse shines through in this hub and I'm glad that readers will be able to benefit from your extensive knowledge on this subject. I also like the way you gave tips on how family and/or friends can recognize the signs of depression/suicide in those they love, and have encouraged them to seek help for their loved ones. Good psychiatric care, usually on an outpatient basis can really make a difference.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Richard-Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate it.

    • Richard83 profile image


      9 years ago from West Virginia

      Very, very useful! Greatly written and presented may I add. It is a very important subject. I am sure many others will find this useful. Thanks.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks. You're a sweetheart. And, you offer wise advice. You are absolutely right, of course. It is cyclic. And, mostly for me, it is situational as well as seasonal. Not like 'winter' blues, but like in the anniversary of my husbands death. It is really interesting how the mind buries the emotional trauma, but there is a rememberance at some level which brings on the meloncholy.

      I remember the first time that I finally got it that it was actually going to pass. That I didn't really have to do anything to 'end it' or worry that it was (and this is the big one) never going to get better.

      When I 'got it' it made the world of difference. But, I resent it when people say, 'just get over it' or 'just get moving - exercise' when they really have no clue or appreciation about what it means to be immobilized.

      Yes-- I work inpatient. One cannot help but appreciate where one is in their life when some of the people I care for are so much worse off. I have always taken to heart the saying, "there but for the Grace of God go I..." Thanks for the uplift. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Denise, stick with it. You've been there before (ditto) and made it through (ditto). No doubt you'll go there again (ditto). I think 'one day at a time' was coined to describe the life of the depressed person.

      But, I remind myself, and I'll bet you agree, there are always people worse off than yourself. Perspective....

      I have a gift? Backatcha.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Writeronline, your words are true and are very touching. I have a family history of depression and I 'fight' this myself. I understand the difficulty in finding the energy at times to even get up out of bed. There have been times in my life in which I have been suicidal, but thankfully, I've always considered my children-they've been my reason to stay living at times.

      I have recently been facing some very difficult work issues that have brought out every ounce of coping skills, family and friend support, and stress & anxiety. It is taking its toll on me physically. I'm actually looking at applying to the sister hospital and packing my bags and moving if I get hired there. This has certainly NOT helped my depression. It's hard to stay positive in a toxic, dysfunctional work environment. And they call themselves 'mental health workers'. (I'm a psych nurse).

      Thanks for your input and keep on writing-you have a gift.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice job Denise. As someone who's lived their entire adult life with clinical (endogenous) depression, I continue to be disappointed that a lifelong illness that affects such a significant percentage of the population, remains on the 'not important enough' list in terms of community recognition, medical research, and societal resolve to bring about change.

      Life goes on - but, for some of us, with a little less light, and a lot more uncertainty.

      If that sounds the least bit self-pitying, then I've failed to make my point: Depression is not a weakness. Life does go on. Because sufferers work very hard, every day, to make it go on.

      Thanks again Denise

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      You're welcome,ap. Glad to put it up there with mine.

    • apStumbo profile image


      9 years ago

      Hey, I am so honored to be linked on this hub! Great work and thank you!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi HCC-Yes, it is hard to 'beat' so, when it hits me I no longer resist. It seems to take the power out of it.

    • howcurecancer profile image


      9 years ago

      I know how hard it is to beat depression!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Ashantina-my heartfelt condolences. I will be sure to read your hub. Take care and Many Blessings.

      Dexter: nice to see you again. I support you in taking care of yourself. Depression can be debilitating or it can be just another way to understand a deeper issue-or perhaps a little of both. God Bless.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      9 years ago from United States

      Depression is real and can be debilitating. I know from experience - but wish I knew beforehand. I will share this information with others. Great advice.

    • Ashantina profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent and very much needed hub Denise.

      I recently wrote a hub 'Committing Suicide' as a family friend of mine did commit suicide a couple of months ago. How delicate our minds are... just that one event, although insignificant to another, can trigger a soul into that deep dark hole of depression. So important as you mention to become aware of any warning signs and to take extremely seriously even the mere mention of suicide. You could save a life......

      Excellent advice here. UP/useful/awesome.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      You're welcome, Tim. I've been an advocate for people with mental health problems for many years. I have a familial thread of depression and have experienced it myself. I don't feel the general public is educated enough, or understands the problems of people with M.I. and I frequently find myself with opportunities to teach. Glad to be following you. Thank you for the nice fan mail.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      9 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great hub. Well written and easily understood. It hits the high spots of mood disorders nicely. thank you for writing this , , ,

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      ChatKath-thank you for your feedback. Good for you for your work with the help line. As I stated earlier, it is a fine line between what I call a depressing situation, which may pass without medication and often a person is able to come to grips with from cognitive therapy, and a 'clinical depression' which is managed with medication. Thanks for your comments.

      Vinodkpallai-thank you for reading and commenting.

      Wayne-I greatly appreciate the comment about the misdiagnosis. It is so true. If one is lucky enough to have an Ace of a Dr. then all tests are done, including running the B12 levels. If one is not so lucky the situation can become grave, such as what your mother experienced. Thank you for sharing. That is vital information.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Rose-I thank you for your valuable input from one who knows and has experienced this. I did not know about the Fountainhouse and will check this out. I appreciate that info b/c I am always adding to my list of resources. God bless.

      Always Exploring-thank you for sharing your experience. I also was deeply distraught following the death of my husband. My grief felt never ending and it was six months before I could return to work. It is different for everyone, but similar symptoms which make it easy to identify. Thanks for commenting. I'm sorry about the loss of your husband.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Kathi-I am so sorry to hear about your sister and neice. It is quite tragic, isn't it? I appreciate your comments. My best to you and your relationship with them. I wish there was a magic wand for all the bad things in the world to be wiped away. There is no easy answers, but it is all inner work and work they have to do.

      B-I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of your niece. I worry about this with my nephew who has at times commented about how he hates his life. It's a fine line between typical teen drama and something more. We do our best to support those we love, don't we. Take care.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Denise, let me also add the caution that "pernicious anemia" is also mis-diagnosed by doctors in more than 30% of the cases as depression. If you elderly parents in the 70 age range look closely for this condition. It was diagnosed as depression in my mother and she was almost dead before we got it properly diagnosed by a hemetologist. The anemia does not register in simple blood tests because it is mask by the high colic acid levels of our diets. You have to test for B12 levels. Anyone wishing to discuss symptoms and progression can contact me here on the Hub. Thanks for sharing this excellent write...up and useful! WB

    • Vinodkpillai profile image


      9 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and useful hub. Thank you, Denise!

    • Chatkath profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Great Hub Denise, all too common problem, I think everyone has themselves or knows someone close who has suffered from depression, and it is such a difficult thing to try and cope with and so misunderstood by family and friends who want to help. Frustrating because unless someone is really ready for a change it is really hard to motivate them to seek treatment...and then so many people will self-medicate or go through numerous prescribed medications with side effects that are worse than the symptoms of the depression! Thanks for addressing this, very common and real problem. I volunteered at a Suicide hotline for awhile - (working through my own depression :) and so many people just need a kind ear and some resources! Good Topic! Good info!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very interesting article. I went through a depressive state after my husband's death. Thankfully, i was able to recover. I've worked with depressed patients and know that they suffer a disease that's not fully understood..Plus many are too ashamed to seek help. Thank you for a well written hub.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      9 years ago

      IMO, Today people with depression in our world suffer even more due to lack of family support like in the olden days, I think families were closer though it may have only been in some cases. But with our society, most people thinking they need to rely on oneself and not others, it may be even harder to ask for help.

      You hub is very information and I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about how depression feels, and the need for support.

      I've had manic depression for 18 years and I know certain coping skills help, like writing, or singing, and talking to others.

      One valuable place for ailing persons to go is to a mental health clubhouse, they can contact one in their area, they are all over the US and in some other countries. Fountain House, for example, ( is the model for clubhouses of this sort which provide a place of support; to meet other people with the disorder and be involved in social events, as well as job training and many other things like help getting education.


      I understand the worry about medications, in many cases it's sorta mandatory as problems as depression and mania involve a lack of serotonin in the brain and these meds help with that, but you're absolutely right that many people may not need medication- it's a determination to be made by professionals- I am all for natural methods of medication and totally counseling is a must for medicated and non medicated alike.

      Counseling does wonders for everyone....even some types such as DBT which train people to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

      So, with family support also, things can change dramatically in a depressed person's life, so definitely be there for them like you would for someone sick with cancer...

      Please feel free to read my hubs on mental health, and thanks for the hub, Denise!!!!

      ~Rose- Schoolgirlforreal :)

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      9 years ago

      Very Good Hub, Denise. I lost my niece to Suicide...she was Bi-polar. It was a tough road and a battle lost.

    • Fossillady profile image


      9 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      My sister suffers from depression since her divorce. She's been on drugs for five years now and two of her children are depended on them. The drugs worry me, they have changed her and her daughter's personalities. Her divorce was an ugly one and her daughter was in her formative teen-age years. It was a shock to the entire family, but I worry most about the drugs and wish they could solve their turned in anger through counseling. Thank you for sharing this vital information!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Patti, October is National Depression Awareness month, but this week's hubtopic is a good time to re-present this topic. Thanks for reading.

      Danette-yes, you're right that there are many people who minimize it. Thanks for your comment.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Having experienced major and dysthymic depression myself as well has having seen others experience manic-depressive and dysthymic depression, I can vouch for the seriousness of this problem.

      Unfortunately, it too often seems to be minimized by doctors and many other people as something to either get over or as not seriously problematic for people.

      Well done hub; voted up.

    • DIYweddingplanner profile image


      9 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Denise, been through this in my own family and will have to say it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. People discount how dangerous real depression can be and don't understand how people who are depressed can truly believe suicide is the only viable option. A very important topic and something everyone needs to know about!


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