There are many different faces of depression, not only because the condition is so widespread, but also because it can manifest in various ways. For one thing, different people may experience different symptoms of depression—from feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt to fatigue, trouble concentrating, agitation, or a loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities. Complicating matters, there are several different types of depression, many of which exist along a spectrum depending on the duration and severity of symptoms.
"The good news is, there has been a significant increase in the number of people being treated for depression," says Christopher Beevers, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and director of the mood disorders laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. "The bad news is that still roughly half of people with a diagnosable form of depression are not receiving treatment." What's more, researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that treatment for major depression is adequate in only 42 percent of cases.
Who's At Risk for Depression
Many different types of depression share common risk factors. If you have a first-degree relative (e.g., mother, father, sibling) who has suffered from depression, your risk of developing the disorder is two to three times higher than someone who doesn't have such a family history, notes Kenneth Kendler, M.D., Banks distinguished professor of psychiatry and professor of human genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Meanwhile, women have a similarly elevated risk. "For every category of depression, women predominate," says Carol Landau, Ph.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at the Alpert Medical School, Brown University, and author of The New Truth About Menopause. "Some people say it's because women go to doctors more but it's also the way people think: A lot of women ruminate [think very deeply about things], which can set you up for major or mild depression."