1. About 20 million Americans experience depression yearly.
Of these, about ten million have major or clinical depression.
2. A quarter of all Americans will suffer a depressive episode at least once in their lives.
Perhaps it’s someone you know—if so, give them a hug. If you’re depressed, try to give yourself a hug.
3. More than 350 million people globally suffer from depression.
The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2030, depression will be second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of medical disability.
4. Depression can be caused by several preexisting physical conditions.
Such conditions include naturally low serotonin levels, poor sleeping patterns, thyroid deficiencies, and—for women at least—a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.
5. Depression can also have several devastating physical effects.
Depressed people are more likely to suffer colds, heart attacks, chronic inflammation, headaches, sleep apnea, chronic pain, and osteoporosis. The cause-and-effect between disease and depression can be murky, though; often it’s unclear whether a person is depressed because of their disease or if they’ve developed a disease due to chronic depression.
6. Exercise and diet can curb depression.
Years of research suggest that exercise is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to lessen depression. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan such as bananas and turkey can trigger the brain to produce the depression-lowering neurotransmitter serotonin. And the physical benefits of being hugged—which releases the “happy hormone” known as oxytocin—cannot be overemphasized. So go for a walk, eat some turkey, and get yourself some hugs!
7. Depression does not typically discriminate according to race or income…
People of all ethnicities and income levels are susceptible to depression.
8. …except it occurs twice as often in women than in men.
Some speculate that estrogen may play a role, while others theorize that society places extra psychological burdens on women. Over their lifetime, 20-26% of women will experience major depression compared to 8-12% of men.
9. Depression is often correlated with aging.
Older American adults kill themselves 50% more often than the nation as a whole. Depression is often linked to the drop in testosterone experienced by middle-aged men. Although an estimated six million older Americans suffer from depression, only about one in ten receive treatment for it.
10. There is a genetic link to depression.
Experts speculate that up to half of depression is linked to inherited genetic factors. If you have a close relative who’s experienced major depression, you are two or three times more likely to experience it yourself.