“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.”
CONDITION BACKGROUND AND DESCRIPTION
Depression is a serious medical illness. It is not something the individual patient makes up in his or her head.1 Practically every adult experiences some form of sadness, grief, or distress within their lifetime. These occasional or situational times of feeling blue or sad are usually only temporary, lasting a couple of days. Depression, however, is the feeling of “hopelessness” for weeks at a time. This feeling interferes with daily life and normal functioning, causing pain for both the individual with depression and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most individuals with depression need treatment to get better.2
Depression is a well defined medical illness. The symptoms of depression are intense, are prolonged and interfere with the person’s daily activities. These features differentiate depression from normal sadness.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Many individuals with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Intensive research into the illness has resulted in the development of medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat individuals with this disabling disorder.2 More than 80% of individuals with depression respond favorably to medications and/or psychotherapy. The feeling of hopelessness eventually disappears, and most individuals are able to resume their normal work and social activities.3
According to The World Health Report 2001 — Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope, depression is the most prevalent of all mental illnesses. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. By the year 2020, the WHO projects depression to be the second leading cause of global disease, behind ischemic heart disease, for all ages and genders.4
Individuals with depression are reported to have 50% to 100% higher health service costs than for comparable patients without depression, primarily due to higher overall medical utilization.5 These individuals often are diagnosed with the chronic