Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Sadness is a normal part of the human emotional spectrum—we all experience it from time to time. When we lose a loved one, go through a breakup or watch one of those heartbreaking commercials, sadness is a typical reaction and a healthy part of the emotional process. The difference between sadness and depression can be easy to miss, especially when you consider the number of people who misuse the word “depression” or say, “I’m depressed” to describe the everyday “blues.” But sadness is not a depressive disorder.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s.
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