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Background on Depression
Depression is now recognized as a significant public health concern, with more than 10 percent of American adults experiencing a major depressive episode each year and more than 20 percent experiencing at least one episode over their lifetime. Furthermore, depression is the major risk factor for suicide, now the second leading cause of death in the 10 to 34 year old age group and the fourth leading cause of death among adults ages 35 to 54. And studies show that the suicide rate has increased dramatically in recent years, rising 33 percent between 1999 and 2017. Depression is also a significant risk factor for substance abuse.
While it is clear that depression is a painful and potentially lethal illness, there is good news about depression that needs to be shared – that it is a highly treatable condition. Most individuals can be successfully treated for depression. However, far too many people who suffer from depression fail to receive effective treatments. Often this failure to be treated is because of one or more of the following obstacles:
- Failure to recognize the symptoms of depression
- Stigma attached to depression and other mental illnesses
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; failure to understand that there are treatments
- Difficulty accessing mental health services