Major Depression and Mental Health


Major depression is defined by the National Institute for Mental Health as among the most common afflictions that affect mental health patients in the United States. It affects people from all walks of life, background, and age. In a survey conducted in 2016, major depressive episodes are prevalent among adults from ages 18+. It’s estimated 16.2 million of adults have experienced a major depressive episode. This represents 6.7% of adults in America. The condition is known to be higher in females at 8.5% compared to 4.8% among male individuals. Prevalence of major depression is highest at 10.9% among adults ages 18 to 25.

Individuals suffering from major depression usually appear to be in a depressed state for two weeks or longer. This includes losing interest in activities they are formerly enthusiastic in, followed by sleep problems, loss of appetite, loss of concentration, loss of energy, low-self image, thoughts of death, and suicidal tendencies. It is important to address the situation as early as possible if a person indicates symptoms of depression. Recently, teenage suicide has been all over the news, with minors often involved. This is the reason why schools have to intensify counseling and educating students about the harmful effects of bullying which has taken many forms from verbal, physical, and even online or cyber-bullying.

Major depression can be remedied early on by providing the person with company and positive encouragement. However, some conditions can be severe that they would require to be properly medically diagnosed and treated. Data from National Institute for Mental Health in 2016 estimates that 44% of depressed adult individuals have been receiving treatment while 37% still suffer without proper medical care. A first step towards overcoming depression is finding someone to talk to about your problem. Family and friends are still the best and they the people we are most comfortable with. Social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists are equipped with the proper training and skills to help persons with major or severe depression. It is also important to find a therapist you are comfortable with. Every therapist’s approach can be different from others but it always starts with a brief talk where they get to know and assess the patient. This is very much similar to talking with family and friends, with the only difference being with a scientific approach this time. There are available online psychological therapy services as well like BetterHelp which is a web-based platform allowing patients to seek online therapists. Patients may click the here to check out the website and find options best suited for them. In 2013, founder Alon Matas realized the need to accommodate the growing number of patients needing therapy. With the power of information technology, Alon with his co-founder Danny Bragonier organized BetterHelp to provide and expand his services to patients needing it the most.

Sadly, many individuals with depression tend to be afraid of the stigma of getting treatment and in effect avoid the assistance of licensed therapists. Some prefer to take pills right away. There are numerous brands over-the-counter to choose from. Self-medication can help, but without proper supervision, it can lead to worse situations like addiction. It is for the reason that depression is different from every individual and it is important to take the appropriate medicine. Drugs that can aid against depression are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs. Patients undergoing medical treatment for major depression can do more aside from being dependent on doctor’s instructions. Family and friends can do their part in helping a patient. He or she can include an exercise routine, healthy diet, meditation, and adequate rest.

Major depression is only one of the many types of mental health problems. There is also schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, different types of phobias, and many others. According to National Alliance Mental Illness millions of Americans experience mental illness. 1.1% of adults live with schizophrenia, 2.6% with bipolar disorder, 6.9% had a major depressive episode in the past year, 18.1% experience anxiety disorders, and lastly half of 20.2 million adults who had experienced substance abuse are suffering from various mental problems.

Mental illnesses like major depression is nothing to be stigmatized or be afraid of. There are a variety of reasons why individuals damage their mental capacity. For those of us who are considered mentally healthy, it is our responsibility to provide a society where human compassion and love is shared. Sometimes, it’s the little things we do that can tell a person he or she is valued and not alone in their struggles.

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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