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Clinical depression (also referred to as major depression or major depressive disorder) is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans every year. It is significantly different from the periods of sadness or feelings of grief that occur as an expected part of life for most people. Although it is normal to be sad or “down” occasionally and to experience grief when a significant loss occurs, clinical depression has more severe symptoms, often lasting for a long period of time, and is more likely to have an impact on a person’s ability to function normally.

It is estimated that during any given month almost five percent of Americans will experience an episode of major depression, and the lifetime prevalence is more than 17 percent. When other depressive conditions such as bipolar disorder and persistent depressive disorder are included, the estimate of lifetime prevalence exceeds 20 percent. In other words, one of every five Americans will experience at least one serious episode of depression at some point in his or her life. Females are generally thought to be about twice as likely as males to experience major depression, but no group is exempt from this painful illness. Depression can be found among the young and the old, the religious and nonreligious, and all ethnic and racial groups. 

We Need to Talk About Depression

Faith communities can be a remarkable source of support and strength. View this video, sponsored by the Healthy Community Partnership, to learn how important it is to start the conversation about mental illness.

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