It is estimated that over 20 million people in the United States experience some form of clinical depression. The disorder itself is more than just feeling sad and tired; the symptoms that are associated with depression can incapacitate an individual in many areas of life. Depression does not affect everyone the same way, and therefore not everyone can be treated with the same medication or method.
Lack of interest in hobbies, daily life
Problems with sleep; excessive sleepiness or insomnia
Memory problems, difficulty concentrating/focusing
Feeling helpless or hopeless
Feeling numb or empty
Social withdrawal, anxiety/irritability
Thoughts of suicide, death or suicide attempts
Unintentional weight gain or loss
Intense irritability, anxiety
Treatments typically involve medication, "talk" therapy or a combination of the two. The most popular anti-depressants prescribed in adolescent cases are Zoloft and Lexapro, whereas adults are typically prescribed Celexa or Prozac after the primary diagnosis. All anti-depressants affect patients differently, so experimentation with different dosages and combinations is typical. In extreme cases, hospitalization is necessary for patients who are in danger of harming themselves or others.
In the United States, four times as many men commit suicide than women. This heightened suicide rate may be explained by the fact that men are less likely than women to report depressive symptoms and/or ask for treatment.
Currently, depression is more common in women than it is in men. Women are highly susceptible to developing post-partum depression after giving birth when the hormone levels are more mixed up than usual.
Pre-pubescent children have the same likelihood of developing depression regardless of gender but following puberty, girls are twice as likely as boys to experience a major depressive episode.
For more informtion see the NIMH publication Depression.