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Latest Research in the Field of Depression

Updated on April 5, 2016

Did you know that, according to the World Health Organization, depression affects approximately 350 million people worldwide? Depression is a major cause of disability, as it leads to an inability to function due to constant feelings of sadness, futility, anxiety, reduced energy and loss of enjoyment in general.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, 16 million people in the US had an episode of major depressive illness in 2014; this number represents 6.7% of all US adults. Females are more prone to be affected by depression than men; 8.2% of the US female adult population had a depressive episode in 2014, compared to 4.8% of the US male adult population in the same period.

Depression Facts and Figures
Depression Facts and Figures
Demographics of Depression in USA
Demographics of Depression in USA

Depression and Suicide

At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. More than 800,000 people commit suicide each year, and suicide is the second biggest cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds, according to an article on, the official website of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. The article goes on to mentioning that it is the tenth leading cause of death among people of all ages.

Cycle of Depression
Cycle of Depression

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can present as a mild, severe or major episode, depending on the number and severity of symptoms. According to an article on, depression is diagnosed if the patient has had a depressed mood lasting longer than 2 weeks, and also has four other changes in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating disorders, problems with self-image, lack of ability to concentrate, low energy, or thoughts of suicide. This is the standard of diagnosis as per the 2012 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

What is a depressed mood? As an article by the Institute for Personal Growth says, you are depressed if you have been feeling sad, hopeless, numb, or helpless, have been having sleep and eating problems, have lost interest in formerly pleasurable activities, are excessively irritable, angry or anxious, gaining or losing weight, and have other physical symptoms such as pain, muscle soreness or digestion problems.

Gene and Depression
Gene and Depression

What the Latest Research Tells Us About Depression

Family, twin, and adoption studies reveal that genetics plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder, or MDD, according to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

A study of common gene variations led by Naomi Wray, Ph.D. of Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia, showed a degree of overlap between bipolar disorder and depression as well as between ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and depression.

Mild cases of depression are treated with therapy. Major cases may require long-term medication as well as therapy. Antidepressants are medications commonly used to treat depression. The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, for the treatment of depression, which is now being widely used, according to an article by Mayo Clinic.

Another type is the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI. The third antidepressant that is commonly used is called buproprion.

Most antidepressants work by increasing the patient’s levels of dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine, the enzymes that help to increase the feel-good factor and reduce feelings of anxiety, according to an article by Medical Daily.

There are no medicines that are known to work better than others for the general population; for reasons that are not yet fully understood, every patient has a different reaction to antidepressants, and it may take a few iterations before the psychiatrist gets the medication and dosage right.

Psychotherapy and Depression

Psychotherapy, known as “talk” therapy, is the other aspect of treatment for depression. According to an article by the American Psychological Association, there are various types of psychotherapies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps the patient to identify unhelpful or distorted thought patterns, understand and change incorrect beliefs, and change behaviors accordingly.

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, involves the therapist teaching the patient that while her behaviors and feelings are valid and understandable, it is the patient’s responsibility to change unhealthy or disruptive behavior.

Interpersonal therapy, or IPT, involves the patient learning better communication patterns and ways of dealing effectively with different kinds of people. This therapy is based on the assumption that the patient’s relationships are affecting her depression.

Finally, family focused therapy is based on the view that the patient’s relationship with family is vital to the success of managing depression.


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