Depression facts everyone should know about

You have probably come across people using the word “depressed” to describe someone with mere sadness or the normal, everyday blues that last only a couple of days and get better on their own. But that’s just wrong. Depression is a serious mental health condition accompanied by feeling of extreme despondency that can result in reduction in person’s vitality, vigor or spirits.

Depression affects a person both biologically and psychologically. And, as per the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), one can say he or she is depressed when they see at least 5 of the following signs for more than two weeks nearly every day.

  • Depressed mood or irritable most of the day.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day.
  • Significant change in weight (5%) or in appetite.
  • Change in sleep: Either not being able to sleep (Insomnia) or not being able to wake up (hypersomnia)
  • Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
  • Concentration: Losing ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness.
  • Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan.

Here are 10 depression facts. Some of these can be interesting, yet some can be scary or even shocking.

1. Depression can cause you to dream up to 3 to 4 times more and have more intense nightmares than you normally would

It has been shown that people suffering from clinical depression spend way too much in dreaming – the time spent in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, also called paradoxical sleep. Because of this, they have high levels of stress hormone in the blood stream, and they often feel exhausted when they wake up in the morning.

Depressed people dream more simply because they worry too much and this endless worrying causes them to get more emotionally aroused to dream out. Their quality of REM sleep is different too – they tend to have more unpleasant dreams and more intense nightmares.

Source: Clinical Depression

2. Depression can cause you to age faster

Telomeres, the protective end caps on the chromosomes’ DNA, shorten as we get older causing aging in our cells. However, the speed at which they shorten varies from person to person, and people who already have rapidly shortening telomeres appear to biologically age faster. The same can be seen in people who are depressed or have had experience depression in the past, they appear to have much shorter telomeres than those who have never experienced depression, causing them to age faster than they normally would.

Source: BBC

3. Spending too much time on the internet can lead to depression and make you mentally unstable

On average, people who spend a lot of time online are more likely to develop depression, stress and sleeping disorders compared to people who don’t. According to study, these people often feel lonely and are mentally unstable as their activity can lead to time pressure, neglect of personal needs (such social interaction and other physical activities), bad ergonomics and mental overload. Even video gaming online for 1-2 hours every day means an increased risk for symptoms of depression to develop in women.

Sources: mailOnline, University of Gothenburg (PDF),

4. Women are approximately twice more likely than man to suffer from major depression, but the rate of suicide in men is four times that of women

In women, several hormonal factors such as menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause contribute to the increased rate of depression. They also experience sexual and physical violence at high rate, which is a major factor in women’s depression.

While it has been accepted that women are more likely to be depressed than man, the rate of suicide in men as a result of depression is four times that of women. Men appear less depressed because they are less likely to admit to depression, and they tend to cover it up by taking drugs or alcohol, or by working overtime.

[NB: Men too are victims of sexual violence – 1 in every 10 rape victims is male.]

Source: All About Depression 

5. Comedians and funniest people are often the saddest

Comedians and funniest people are usually the ones surrounded by darkness. According to study published at the British Journal of Psychology, comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits compared to other people. They tend to belief in telepathy and paranormal events; face difficultly in focusing thoughts; have reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure and have tendency towards impulsive antisocial behavior. In other words, comedians feel easily distracted; they are impulsive and tend to avoid interaction with other humans.

Robin Williams, whose suicide has put a spotlight on the dark side of comedy, is a good example. He struggled with long–term depression and addiction.

Source: Reuters

6. Placebo can be used as an effective treatment for depression, and it actually makes antidepressants work even better

Placebo drugs have no therapeutic effect as they do not contain any active medicine. However, psychologists often use them as handy tools for treating depression. A study showed that depressed people who benefited psychologically from placebo drugs recovered even faster when they’re on antidepressants.

Placebo treatments benefit depressed patients both psychologically and emotionally. They make them believe they are improving, which in turn shows actual improvement

Source: The University of Michigan Medical School

7. Iceland is the most depressed country in the world

Judging by the rate of antidepressant use, Iceland is the most depressed nation in the world. According to report by OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), developed countries on average are consuming 10 percent more antidepressants than they did about a decade ago. However in Iceland, antidepressant consumption rose almost twice the OECD average when all three of the country’s main banks failed. Some experts think it may have happened because there are no alternative treatments like psychotherapy in the country.

Source: Quartz

8. Cocaine can work as antidepressants. Even Sigmund Freud recommended it.

In the late 19th century, cocaine was regularly used as a treatment for melancholia – a chronic sadness. And it was even shown that adding cocaine to wine could lift even make the saddest people happy.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was the famous advocate for cocaine therapy. He claimed cocaine has mood-enhancing properties and was adamant about cocaine’s potential to relieve depression, alcoholism and morphine addiction.

Source: Vice

9. Depression is the second biggest cause of global disability

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2010 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) , depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide after back pain. Disability arising from depression goes past disability due to all forms of cancers and even with diabetes mellitus combined. It also exceeds the disability due to strokes and hypertensive heart diseases. Experts say Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) should be held accountable for 8.2 percent of the total number of Years Lived with Disability (YLDs).

Source: Medical Daily

10. Exercise helps ease depression; it also even helps prevent the onset of depression later in life.

Exercise can benefit you both physically and psychologically, and most importantly, it can be used as an effective tool to fight depression. During exercise, feel-good brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids are released which can ease depression, and it also helps dampen immune system chemicals that can make depression worse. Moreover, most people struggling with depression have an altered thermoregulatory system. So increasing body temperature with a bit of work out may have calming effect.

Even moderate exercise and physical activities such as walking and gardening for at least 20-30 minutes a day can prevent episodes of depression in the long-term.

Sources: University of Toronto, Mayo Clinic

If you’re depressed, you are not alone. There are 350 million of you out there struggling with this serious disorder. Even the greatest and the most people become the victim of depression.

Depression is a big deal; you should consider setting up an appointment with a psychotherapist if you think you are depressed. A lot of people often have wrong conceptions about depression. So it will be wise to keep this in mind – just because you’re sad doesn’t mean you’re depressed.