Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Mental health awareness is increasing all over the world, and this is a good thing as people with mental health issues no longer have to suffer in silence for fear of being stigmatized. Depression affects almost 20 million people in the United States alone. It is characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anger, frustration, and a host of other negative emotions that seem to go on for a long time. We all experience these negative emotions at some point in life and usually, we can pinpoint their cause, and they do not go on forever. It could be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or failure to achieve your goals, among other things. With depression, however, the negative emotions can go on for a long time or keep recurring. It may be triggered by an event in one’s life, such as illness, bereavement, a breakup or divorce, but it may also have no obvious cause. One just feels low and finds no pleasure in life, even if there is a reason to celebrate and be happy. Types of depression Major depression – This occurs when the negative emotions described above interfere with one’s work, school, eating habits, sleep, and other daily functions, and this goes on for two or more weeks. Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) – This occurs when the depression stays for two years or longer. The severity of the depression may vary over the period. Postpartum depression – This type of depression is also very common. It is where new mothers experience depression, which makes it difficult for them to bond with and care for their babies. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – As the name suggests, this occurs before a woman’s menstrual period. The woman starts experiencing symptoms of depression about a week before her menstrual period begins, and the symptoms pass afterward. Seasonal affective disorder – Some people get depressed in winter and sometimes even fall, and this is believed to be caused by the lack of sunlight during these seasons. The affected person tends to lock themselves up to avoid other people, and this causes them to sleep more and gain weight. Depression can also be a symptom of mental illnesses such as bipolar or schizophrenia. It is not very clear why some people are more prone to depression than others. For instance, two people may be in the same difficult situation in life, but one manages to get through it fairly easily while the other ends up depressed. However, scientists believe that depression can be affected by genetics, one’s childhood experience, for example, abuse and trauma, substance abuse, and medical conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, ADHD and sleep disorders. The good news is that 80-90% of people who seek treatment for depression are cured. If you suspect that you might be suffering from depression, the first step you should take is to search online for a psychologist near me. He/she will help you design a treatment plan which may include therapy and medication. If your case is not so severe, therapy alone may suffice.