Depression: What You Need to Know

Credits: Courtesy of HackensackUMC Mountainside

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Since the recent tragic passing of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams, there has been significant discussion about depression. How could someone with so much talent and wealth succumb to depression?

The reality is, millions of people from all different types of backgrounds suffer from depression. Statistics indicate that an estimated 121 million people around the world suffer from some form of depression (1).  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 adults in the United States suffer from depression at any given time (2).

Many of us feel sad or “depressed” for various reasons and it usually passes within a few days. However, when it persists and interferes with our daily lives, responsibilities and relationships, you may have clinical depression.

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According to the Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), major depression is defined as depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than 2 weeks that interferes with ones’ daily life.

Symptoms may include:

-          Depressed mood nearly every day

-          Change in sleep habits

-          Loss of interest in most activities

-          Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt

-          Decreased energy

-          Decreased concentration

-          Changes in weight or appetite

-          Psychomotor agitation or retardation

-          Thoughts of death/suicide

If you are experiencing at least 5 of these 9 symptoms for at least a 2 week period, you may be suffering from major depression.

Other forms of depression include:

-          Persistent Depressive Disorder (formerly known as dysthymia): depressed mood that occurs most days and lasts for more than 2 year.

-          Psychotic Depression: depression that includes psychotic features (hallucinations, delusions)

-          Postpartum Depression: moderate to severe depression that occurs after giving birth. This can occur immediately or up to a year after

-          Seasonal Affective Disorder: depression that occurs during the winter when natural sunlight is at its lowest point

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated.  The first step is to visit a doctor or mental health specialist as soon as possible. Depending on the evaluation, you may be started on medication and/or psychotherapy. In addition, there are things you can do to help treat your depression. These include:

-          Understanding that depression is a medical illness and will take time to improve

-          Talking with family and friends; try not to isolate yourself

-          Participating  in activities that you enjoy – go watch a movie or have dinner with friends

-          Joining the local gym or going for a walk

-          Setting realistic expectations for yourself

Depression is a treatable medical illness. The most important part is recognizing the symptoms and seeking the appropriate help. Next time you see your doctor, make sure to bring up your concerns. We as healthcare providers are here to listen.






HackensackUMC Mountainside, part of the Hackensack University Health Network, provides patients immediate access to innovative and effective treatment alternatives at specialized centers within the hospital that focus on imaging, women’s health, cancer care, surgery, obesity, stroke and chronic kidney disease. The 365-bed community hospital also serves as a learning center via its nursing school and residency programs in internal medicine, family practice and dentistry.  HackensackUMC Mountainside is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the NJ State Department of Health and Senior Services and is one of only a few community hospitals licensed by the State to perform emergency cardiac angioplasty. To learn more about HackensackUMC Mountainside visit

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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