Addressing Rising Rates of Depression in America
The topics of depression and mental health are not new, especially in today’s day and age. However, the amount of people who are now experiencing depression on a firsthand basis is nothing short of jarring. According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly 30% of Americans have reported experiencing depression in their lifetime, which is a 10% increase since 2015.
Depression is a global problem, as 4 in every 10 adults ages 15 and older have depression or know someone with it. Here in the United States, a whopping 22% of Americans report having experienced depression so badly that they could not carry out everyday activities for two weeks or longer at some point in their lives.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that can significantly alter the course of one’s life if left untreated. Genetics, brain chemistry, traumatic life events, medical conditions, substance use disorders, and stress can all contribute to the development of this mental health condition, which is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Feeling sad or anxious most of all of the time
- Irritability and restlessness
- Becoming easily frustrated
- Changes in appetite
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling tired even after sleeping well
- Experiencing feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Having suicidal thoughts
Here in the United States, the continually increasing rates of depression are being caused by several varying factors, however some of which are more prominent than others. The pandemic (including the remnants of what has been left over in the wake of it) has contributed to higher levels of depression, as has unemployment, difficulty accessing mental health care, and financial struggles. Additional issues, such as gun violence, trans rights, abortion, racism, and political exhaustion have also added to the burden that so many Americans feel on a daily basis. Issues such as these can make individuals more susceptible to experiencing depression and other serious health conditions.
If you are one of the millions of people in the country who have depression or who think they may have it, know that you are not alone. Living with depression can be challenging to the point where your motivation to do something about it can feel completely diminished. Thankfully, there are ways that you can get the help you need and start feeling better.
For starters, if you think that you have depression, the most important thing you can do is reach out for help from a professional. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the very thought of doing that, do not be afraid to ask a loved one for help. They can assist by making calls for you and setting up an appointment with a provider so that you can start getting the treatment you need. Additional things you can do to address your depression can include the following:
- See a therapist. A therapist can help you talk through your depression in ways that alleviate some of the burden you may be experiencing. They can help you identify the causes of your depression, provide you with a deeper education about this specific condition, and help you build strong coping skills. They can also provide therapies that are proven to help treat depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy.
- Discuss medication. For many people with depression, medication is vital to help balance out neurotransmitters in the brain that are contributing to their depression. Speak with your therapist and/or your doctor about medication. They can work with you to determine if medication can benefit your situation and help recommend types and dose amounts.
- Make changes to your daily life. A great deal of research has shown that making certain changes to your everyday life can help reduce symptoms of depression. This can include exercising, eating healthy, being outdoors, and developing a routine.
- Seek support. Depression can cause you to withdraw from others and isolate yourself, even if you don’t want to. However, reaching out to a friend, family member, or a loved one can make a big difference in your life. By allowing others in, you open up the door for much needed support while you learn how to manage your depression effectively.
There is never a bad time to reach out for help, nor is it ever too late to ask for it. If you are depressed but are ready for a fresh start, seek help from a professional or dial 988 to be connected to the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.