Depression remains one of the most prevalent medical illnesses in the world today. Statistics place it just above cardiac illnesses and indicate that it plays a major role in many medical illnesses, making it a prime contributing factor to impaired health.
Pain may also contribute to depression because chronic pain prevents you from getting adequate sleep and leaves you predisposed to depression. It also undermines your belief in your ability to perform normal, everyday tasks and erodes your self-confidence.
What about the seasons and how they can contribute to depression? One disorder, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), has been shown to respond to light treatment and the latest research is indicating that you may not need expensive, high tech lights to get the "sun" exposure you need. In fact, some research pointed to light being limited to a small spot behind the subject’s knee--yes, their knees. This illustrated just how easily you may get the light you need.
One fairly startling fact that is coming out of recent research is that depression and it’s companion, anxiety, may be related to autoimmune disorders. Yes, the immune system appears to play a major role in depression and anxiety as it does in pain. For this reason, standard treatments with antidepressant medications may not always work.
What are some of the disorders where the immune system seems to be calling out inappropriate messages to our bodies? Arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and perhaps others yet to be discovered. Some genetic disorder, too, may predispose us to immune system dysfunction that can lead to depression and anxiety and Dr. Sapolsky would be the first one to tell you, as he did tell me, that there’s an awful lot that the medical community doesn’t know about our neurology and the inner workings which cause changes in emotion, irritability, memory dysfunction, anxiety and sleep disorders. And, yes, the immune system is even involved in sleep problems, so these are complex issues for which simplistic reasoning doesn’t work.
What about the statistics related to depression? The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that “20.9 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.” Of those with this mood disorder, the average age of onset is 30 years of age. Many of these individuals will also have depressive disorders which co-occur with an anxiety disorder and substance abuse. In addition, anyone with an anxiety disorder may have more than one anxiety disorder at the same time.
The World Health Organization indicates that there are about 121 million people worldwide with depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. “Fewer than 25% of those affected have access to effective treatment” despite the fact that it can be “reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.”
NIMH Depression Information and Booklet
Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trials and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy
Medication Review and Comparisons
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Antidepressants May Damage More Sex Lives
Combining Meds for Depression: The State of the Art
Q&A About SAD and Light Therapy
Light Therapy Products
MedlinePlus on Depression (NLM)
Depression Screen Test (NYU Medical Center)
Mayo Clinic Self-Assessment
WebMD Depression Health Center
Dr. Ivan's Depression Central
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
American Psychological Association
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
World Health Organization (WHO)
Univ. of Chicago Resources (pamphlets)
Depression during and after pregnancy
Postpartum support international
A guide for patients and families
New England J. of Medicine
Stress, Depression and the Holidays
CHILDREN AND DEPRESSION
Depression in Children and Adolescents
The Depressed Child
Major Depression in Children and Adolescents
Depression and Suicide in Children and Adolescents
Facts About Depression in Children (Univ. of Mich.)
Best Treatments (BMJ)
Depression in Children (WebMD)
Depression in Children and Tx. (Mayo Clinic)
Depression in Children and Adolescents (NAMI)
Considerations for Depression in Children with Cancer