Depression Awareness Month
Depression Awareness Month

What is Depression?

Anyone can have a blue day now and then. Feeling down or irritable for a day is not unusual. Depression is more than feeling sad or struggling with challenging circumstances. It’s a serious mental health condition.

  • An estimated 16 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode last year (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
  • Women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
  • Young adults aged 18 to 25 are 60 percent more likely to have depression than people aged 50 or older (National Alliance on Mental Illness).


Identifying and Understanding Depression

Identification is often the first step toward effective treatment. Depression may include the following signs or symptoms:

    • Suicidal thoughts, intent, plans, gestures or previous attempts (If you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-TALK)
    • Depressed mood or sad or empty feelings
    • Irritability, agitation, mood swings, or angry outbursts
    • Crying spells or tearfulness
    • Loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities or relationshipsdepression warning signs
    • Decreased appetite or weight loss
    • Increased appetite or weight gain
    • Insomnia or trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up
    • Hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
    • Fatigue or loss of energy
    • Feeling slowed down or experiencing observable decreases in body movements
    • Restlessness, anxiety or feeling keyed up
    • Feeling worthless, helpless or hopeless
    • Withdrawal or isolation
    • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
    • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention or easily becoming distracted
    • Indecisiveness or trouble with making decisions
    • Impairment in school, work, and either social or relationship functioning
    • Negative view of self, others, the world or the future
    • Low self-esteem, confidence or body image
    • Persistent grief and loss issues

What You Can do if You or Someone You Know is Depressed

  • Get professional help. Depression can be a chemical imbalance and something that is out of your control.
  • Offer support. Encourage discussion and try to reduce extra stress in the lives of family or friends who may be experiencing depression.
  • Eat Healthy. Healthy eating can improve your overall health and mood.
  • Exercise. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and improve your mood.


Additional Resources

  • What is a mental illness?
  • Season Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.
  • NAMI Helpline is an information and referral service which can be reached by calling 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Treatment is available through your local county mental health facility, some safety net clinics, intensive outpatient programs at hospitals, private therapists and various social service agencies, including The Family Conservancy call (913) 742-4357 to schedule an appointment.
  • Inspire others! NAMI encourages people suffering with mental illness to share their story and help others. These illnesses are more common than most diseases we talk about.
  • Advocate to fight inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness.