What is depression?

October 3rd, 2023

Torben Bergland, MD

Depression means that something is pushed down. In depressive disorders, our mood, interests, and energy are what is pushed down. We may all feel sad and tired when bad things happen. That is normal. But depression is much more than that. 

In depression, we may feel sad, angry, and distressed about almost everything. Often, most of all, about ourselves, who we are, and life itself. We may lose interest in whatever used to give us joy and pleasure. We may feel exhausted and tired without having done anything. And, even though we rest, we cannot recover strength and energy.

Depression is a serious medical illness. It negatively affects how we think, feel and act. It makes it difficult to work, love, and play.

Depression is emotionally painful. Severe cases may be so painful that people give up on life. Depression is a leading cause of death by suicide.

People everywhere around the world struggle with depression. Almost 300 million people are suffering from some depressive disorder. Depression affects all kinds of people: Any gender, any age, any financial status, any religion, any race, and any ethnicity. Depression is so common that many of us will experience it at some point in life. All of us know someone who struggles with depression; it may be someone in our family, a friend, a neighbor, a classmate, a colleague.

Unfortunately, many suffer from depression without telling anyone or getting help, some even without knowing it. Fortunately, there is hope. Depression can be overcome. There are many helpful self-care strategies and treatment options.

In the next article, we’ll explore the symptoms of depression.

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