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Depression is a mental illness disorder that affects millions of people each year.  According to a major study on depression in 2013, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people over the age of 18 have a form of depression, totaling over 15 million people in the U.S.   It is estimated that 17% of the population will experience a major depressive episode during the course of their life.  Put in perspective, that is close to 1 and 5 people will experience a depressive episode during their life.

Forms of Depression

There are three common types of depression including major depression, persistent depressive disorder (PDD), and bipolar disorder.  The effects of depression vary person-to-person and disorder-to-disorder. It is important to understand the difference between the different types of depression in order to appropriately treat the particular disorder.

Major Depression

Major depressive is classified as being sad and unhappy for two weeks or longer and feelings of hopeless, helpless, and worthless.  In addition to an extended period of sadness, a two-week people experiencing depression also have a hard time finding enjoyment in things that once brought them joy and happiness in everyday life.  Differentiating between short-lived moments of sadness and depression can be challenging since everyone experiences hard times throughout their lives. Speaking with a medical professional can be helpful for many people to determine whether they are depressed or they are going through a temporary hard time.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a form of depression that last for at least 2 years.  In children and adolescents, one year or longer of depressive symptoms can be diagnosed as Persistent Depressive Disorder.  PDD is usually not as severe than major depression, but the symptoms are very similar to major depression.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a form of depression and it is classified as experiencing severe mood swings.   A person who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder usually is extremely happy one day and then shows symptoms of depression such as severe sadness the next day.  People with Bipolar disorder usually have many more lows than highs.   While research continues on bipolar disorder, there continues to be no one factor that leads to the mental illness.

Common Depression Symptoms

  • Extended periods of sadness (over 2 weeks)
  • Cannot find happiness in things that once brought one joy, including sex
  • Pessimistic thoughts or feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of appetite or over eating
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Decreased energy or fatigue

Who does Depression Affect?

Depressive condiotion can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities.

Numbers collected over a 12-month period in which an individual had a major depressive episode


White – 7.3%
African American – 4.6%
Hispanic – 5.8%
Asian – 4.0%
Native American or Alaska Native – 8.9%


Under 13 – 2.5%
13-18 – 3.3%
18-25 – 8.7%
26-49 – 7.6%
50+ – 5.1%


Male – 5.1%
Female – 8.1% (Women are 70% more likely to have a major depressive episode than men during their lifetime.)


While there are many resemblances among people affected by depression, there are some notable differences between men and women when it comes to depression.  Female specific depression conditions include premenstrual problems, pregnancy and infertility, postpartum depression, and menopause.

To complicate diagnoses, women often experience what is called atypical depression.  This means that instead of eating less, women eat more, and instead sleeping less, women sleep more.


Men are usually less willing to seek help for depression or admitting to being depressed.  If a man seeks help for depression, it can be seen as a weakness leading them to seek help less than women.  When evaluating symptoms of depression in men, it is important to know that not all signs and symptoms are the same as common depression symptoms.  For instance, instead of feeling sad for an extended period of time, men often get angry and irritable for an extended duration.  Instead of using friends and food for support, men often turn to alcohol, TV, and sports to self medicate.

Older Adults and the Elderly

When adults move into their golden years, there are many changes older adults and seniors experience in which they are not prepared for.  Through these changes, it’s not uncommon for a senior to experience a major depressive episode.  Common changes among older adults that can lead to depression include medical problems, retirement, loss of loved ones and friends, and isolation.   Some of the standard signs and symptoms of depression in seniors include; social withdrawal, sadness, fatigue, weight loss or loss of appetite, loss of self worth, sleep issues, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.  Often time’s, seniors are more likely to get angry versus sad as they go through depression.


During the teenage years, there are a dozens, if not hundreds of changes that teens must cope with and adapt to. These changes can include; puberty, social pressures, and trying to find out who they are and where they fit into society.   When looking at signs of depression in teens and adolescents, it’s important to understand they also have a unique set of signs and symptoms compared to adults.

While sadness is common among many adults who are depressed, teens are more likely to show anger, aggression, and hostility.  Teens who are depressed sometimes deal with these pressures by using alcohol and drugs, running away, participating in reckless behavior, and sometimes can resort to violence.

What Causes Depression?

The causes of depression are not fully understood yet in the medical field, but it’s generally a combination of environmental, biological, genetic, and psychological factors. While there may one event that triggers a depressive episode, there are usually a number of underlying factors that need to be addressed as well.

Major depressive episodes can be caused by situational events such as a loss of a loved one or friend, relationship problems, divorce, loss of a job, financial trouble, personal accident or trauma, social pressures, and other instances that can affect a person’s overall well being.

While depressive condition is usually genetic, it can also happen to those who have no family history of depression.

How to Treat Depression

After being diagnosed with depression, a combination of psychological sessions / treatments and medication is common when treating people for depression. Unlike illnesses that can be treated with prescribed medication or surgery, changes in choices that led to the depressive episode and therapy are both instrumental in treatment and recovery.

At Peak Behavioral Health Services in El Paso, TX, patients go through a free evaluation and if a form of depression is diagnosed, we then work with the patient and involved parties to come up with a personalized treatment plan for recovery.

Call us today 575-589-3000 for more information!

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