Whether you’re a company executive, a construction worker, a writer, a police officer, or a student; whether you are rich or poor; surrounded by loved ones or alone; you are not immune to depression.
Some factors, however, such as family history, undue stress, the loss of a loved one, or serious illnesses can make you more vulnerable.
If left untreated, depression can lead to personal, family, and financial difficulties. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, however, most people recover. The darkness disappears, hope for the future returns, and energy and interest in life becomes stronger than ever.
Depression can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender; however, large scale research studies have found that depression is about twice as common in women as in men.1,2 In the United States, researchers estimate that in any given one year period, depressive illnesses affect 12 percent of women (more than 12 million women) and nearly 7 percent of men (more than six million men).3 But important questions remain to be answered about the causes underlying this gender difference. We still do not know if depression is truly less common among men, or if men are just less likely than women to recognize, acknowledge, and seek help for depression.
In focus groups conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to assess depression awareness, men described their own symptoms of depression without realizing that they were depressed. Notably, many were unaware that “physical” symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, can be associated with depression. In addition, men were concerned that seeing a mental health professional or going to a mental health clinic would have a negative impact at work if their employer or colleagues found out. They feared that being labeled with a diagnosis of mental illness would cost them the respect of their family and friends, or their standing in the community.