Did You Know?

Depression is more than feeling sad. It is normal to feel sadness or grief when a loved one dies, if you lose your job, you fail an exam, or a relationship ends. But sadness and depression are not the same. While feelings of sadness will decrease in time, depression can last for months or years without treatment. Depression is a long-lasting, often recurring illness that can have disabling effects on your mood, behavior, thinking, and health. It is not a “bad day” or a weakness in character.

Nearly 1 in 10 Americans each year experience depression. It affects men and women, young and old, and people of all races, cultures, and incomes, and each person differently. While depression can be serious, it is a highly treatable medical condition; 80–90% of those with depression can be successfully treated. However, depression often goes unrecognized by those who have it, by their families and friends, and even by their physicians.

How Do You Know if a Person Has Depression?

There are two main symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability or anxiety that won't go away.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies once enjoyed, which lasts for more than two weeks.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep.
  • Trouble falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning, bad dreams, or oversleeping.
  • Eating too much or too little; weight changes.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
  • Excessive crying or excessive feelings of wanting to cry.
  • Loss of sex drive.
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; slowed thinking.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
  • Restlessness, irritability, or angry outbursts.
  • Increased drinking, cigarette smoking, or using prescription or other drugs.
  • Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, which do not respond to routine treatment.

It Takes Courage to Ask for Help

Depression is painful for the depressed individual and can disrupt the life of others who care or are involved. Admitting depression can be embarrassing or seen as personal weakness. Support from family and friends plays an important role in successful treatment. Often times, the feelings and behaviors that are part of depression make it especially difficult to admit depressive symptoms or ask for help. It is important to remember that depression is a real, treatable illness and is nothing to be ashamed about.

If you are feeling depressed, tell someone about your symptoms. Speak with a friend, a family member, a doctor, nurse, psychologist, social worker, or employee assistance professional. The University of Michigan Counseling Centers can put you in touch with a mental health professional. Asking for help takes courage, but it can make all the difference.

* NOTE: Links on this web site to external web sites are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute an endorsement by MiTalk, Counseling and Psychological Services or the University of Michigan.

*The American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA), 2009