Depression is one of the most common forms and symptoms of mental illness in the United States, with around five percent of adults suffering from depression as of 2019. Depression is characterized by protracted feelings of sadness and hopelessness that can affect one’s sleeping and eating habits, social and work life, and daily activities. Symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and thoughts of death or suicide. Different forms of depression include postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and psychotic depression. Depression, and mental health in general, were recently brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic which saw normal life severely disrupted for much of the world. During this time symptoms of depression were present among a large portion of the U.S. population.
Depression is a leading cause or risk factor for suicide, highlighting the importance of diagnosis and treatment. This is clear in the fact that in 2018 around 75 percent of suicide victims in the U.S. suffered from depression. As of 2020, around 34 percent of adults with a major depressive episode had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, while 11 percent made suicide plans, and 3.6 percent attempted suicide. Despite the seriousness of depression, it is one of the most treatable mental disorders, with the majority of patients finding relief through medication, therapy, or life changes. The most common types of professionals seen for a major depressive episode are general practitioners or family doctors, psychiatrists or psychotherapists, and psychologists.
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