Navigating Depression + Your Journey

Depression and Your Journey

What is depression? According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (or Major Depressive Disorder, MDD) is described as:

"a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. [...] Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home."

When considering depression, it is often referred to as a “depressive episode.” There are certain kinds of depression that linger longer, but many times, a depressive episode is time-bound. Depression can range from a mild inconvenience to a debilitating impairment, and should be taken seriously. The good news is that it’s treatable. Read on for more information about depression and how it may impact our alcohol-free journey.

How common is depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 17.3 million adults experienced a major depressive episode in the US in the year of 2017. Depression appears to be more prevalent in women; adult females had a prevalence of major depression at a rate of 8.7%, while men had a prevalence of major depression at a rate of 5.3% of the overall population. Of note, those reporting two or more races had the highest rates of depression (11.3%). Depression is also a significant impairment among young adults, with 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17 experiencing at least one depressive episode. As with adults, this disproportionately affects young women (20%) vs. young men (6.8%).

What are the symptoms of depression?

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed

  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue

  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)

  • Feeling worthless or guilty

  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, but they can be treated with medical and therapeutic intervention.