Depression may be described as feeling sad or unhappy. However, there is more to depression than just feeling sad, and it’s not something you can just “snap out of.” Depression can take over your day-to-day life, making it difficult to function and enjoy the things you once loved. It can make you feel alone, frustrated, and unsure of where to turn for help. If you are struggling with depression, know that you are not alone. Depression is a mental disorder that can affect anyone. More than 21 million Americans suffer from depression annually.
While depression is not uncommon, it can affect people in many different ways. Some people may experience a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood. Others may not feel sad at all, but rather lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men and women often experience depression differently and may have different ways of coping with the symptoms. Women are more likely to admit to feelings of sadness, worthlessness and/or excessive guilt, whereas men are more likely to acknowledge having fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in activities, and sleep disturbances.
There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. While no one knows for sure what causes depression, there are many contributing factors that may increase the likelihood of experiencing an episode of depression. Some common factors that can contribute to depression include:
- Stressful life events
- Serious illnesses
- Loss of a loved one
- Relationship problems
- Social isolation
- Substance abuse