Everyone experiences periods of sadness, grief and discouragement. But when these feelings persist more than a couple of weeks and impair your ability to get through the day, you may have Major Depression. Major Depression, also known as Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder, is the most severe form of depression. People experiencing major depression typically feel such intense sadness and hopelessness that they are constantly depressed, and have no interest in normal activities. Major Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting as many as 15 million Americans yearly. Symptoms of Major Depression vary because everyone experiences depression differently. Some people eat too much or too little. Some have trouble sleeping or can't get out of bed. Still others may be unusually irritable, or have difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms of depression include lack of energy, loss of pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, and thoughts of suicide. The typical onset for Major Depression is between the ages of 25 and 44, but can affect anyone at any age. Women are twice as likely to experience Major Depression and are particularly vulnerable to depression following childbirth, because of hormonal and physical changes. Men suffer from Major Depression, too. However, men are less likely to seek help when depressed, so it often goes unreported. Men may also be more likely to express their unhappiness through anger, substance abuse or violent behavior. Episodes of Major Depression may last for six to nine months. While some people experience a single occurrence, others may experience repeated episodes throughout their life. That's why most mental health professionals consider Major Depression a chronic illness requiring long-term treatment.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012