Between 10 and 20% of the U.S. population experiences depression at some point, with it being twice as common in females than in males. While recent data suggests the incidence of the disorder is on the rise among people less than 20 years old, the average age of onset is about 40 years old.
When feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness and lack of motivation or interest begin to interfere with your life for weeks or months at a time, you may need to seek help for depression. Almost all patients complain about reduced energy, with a vast majority reporting irregular sleep patterns—either lying in bed unable to fall asleep or sleeping longer than usual. Other symptoms include decreased sex drive and fluctuating eating habits. Patients also tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol before seeking help. It is important to note that a depressive episode can often be the first symptom of bipolar disorder, and without proper evaluation, can be misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder.
Take a Depression Screening quiz here.
In addition to biological influences, Dr. Ahmad considers psychosocial factors when forming a diagnosis of depression. These include emotionally traumatic events (i.e., losing a loved one) and environmental stressors (i.e., unemployment or natural disasters).
On average, an untreated depressive episode lasts 6 to 13 months, while most treated episodes last only 3 months. Studies show that upwards of 80% of people diagnosed with depression improve with a combination of psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. These treatment options, along with genetic testing, are all available at the Center for Integrative Wellness and will be tailored specifically to your personal needs and preferences as a patient.