Nearly 19 million Americans are affected by depression each year and only about half receive treatment. Untreated depression, however, can have serious consequences! Depression is a serious medical illness in which a person experiences persistent sadness, hopelessness and lack of interest in normal activities for more than two weeks. Without treatment, it may last for months or even years, interfering with physical health, relationships, work and finances. Its not uncommon for people to be unable to recognize their own depression or depression in loved ones, often finding a number of ways to justify why they dont need help. Similarly, parents often miss the signs of depression in their children because they may not realize that young children or teens CAN have a depressive disorder. When depression goes untreated, the risk for substance abuse increases as well, ESPECIALLY among teens and young males. Using drugs or alcohol also increases the risk of suicide. Untreated depression is the NUMBER ONE risk for suicide among young people. Studies also suggest that suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15- to 24-year -olds, with young males ages 15 to 24 at highest risk. Researchers also believe that people suffering from clinical depression may be more likely to have a heart attack than those without a history of depression, and may also have a more difficult time recovering from serious illness, such as heart disease or stroke. Untreated depression during pregnancy may increase the risk of an underweight or premature infant, and can compromise the mothers ability to nurture her baby. This may lead to long-term developmental and behavioral problems in the infant and also affect the well-being of siblings. The good news is that more than 80 percent of people suffering from depression can be treated successfully. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression symptoms that have persisted beyond a couple of weeks, its important to see a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012