5 Facts To Know About Depression

Depression, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, affects 14.8 million American adults, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The percentage of seniors who have the disorder varies from less than 1 percent to 5 percent, the CDC says. But the percentage rises sharply to 11.5 percent among elderly hospital patients to 13.5 percent among those who have home health care.
The condition is complex and multi-faceted, encompassing both physical and mental symptoms, and for a patient or caregiver it’s essential to know as much as possible about it. Here from the SeniorHealth division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are some lesser-known yet crucial facts about depression:


According to the SeniorHealth experts, major depressive disorder, also called major depression or clinical depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, concentrate, eat, and enjoy activities you once liked. Major depression keeps a person from functioning normally.

Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is less severe but sometimes lasts longer. The condition, which has many of the same symptoms as depression lasts at least two years. It may also affect normal functioning in daily life.

Subsyndromal depression, affecting many older adults, is a milder form of the illness that includes similar, but less severe, symptoms that are found in major depression of dysthymia. However, the SeniorHealth experts say, having this condition may increase the risk of developinig more a more serious case of depression.

Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.

Bipolar depression. also called manic-depressiveness, is less common than major depression or dysthymia. People who suffer from bipolar disorder alter from extreme highs to extreme lows in mood.


Although many people who don’t understand depression will urge sufferers to “snap out of it,” it is far from that simple. Depression is not weakness or a lack of willpower. Imaging technologies show that the brains of people with depression look different or are working differently than those who aren’t depressed. According to the SeniorHealth experts, areas of the brain that control moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior don’t seem to be functioning well. Additionally, the experts say, there may be very low or very high levels of crucial brain chemicals., However, much research remains to be done on exactly why depression occurs.