Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 14 million American adults every year. Of those suffering from depression, 6.8 million do not even seek treatment 1. Often a debilitating disorder,
depression results in a persistent state of sadness that interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, and physical health. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible.
People who suffer from depression experience a persistent state of sadness or a loss of the ability to feel pleasure. Those experiencing depression often lose interest in everyday activities or hobbies that were once
According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-IV- TR) published by the American Psychiatric Association,
depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or
pleasure plus four or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period:
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain (a change of more than five percent of body
weight in a month)
- Significant increase or decrease in appetite
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
- Agitation and restlessness
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Depression can be a lethal disease. In fact, each year in the US, over 30,000 people die by suicide, 60%
of whom suffer from depression.
- In 2000, the economic burden of depression was estimated at $83.1 billion in the US 4 , and researchers
estimate that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. 5
- Depression is often chronic and recurrent, as 55-70 percent of individuals with a single episode can be
expected to have a second episode and over 70 percent of individuals who experience a second
episode will have a third within three years without treatment.
Who is Impacted?
Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or lifestyle.
- Depression has no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries.
- 10 percent of the adult population experience depression in any given year, while 15 percent of Americans will experience depression sometime during their lifetime.
- Overall, women are almost twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. However, some experts feel that depression in men is under-reported.
What causes depression?
While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that depression is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells.
How are depressed patients treated?
There are drug and non-drug treatments for depression. Depression is often treated initially with
psychotherapy (talk-therapy) and antidepressant drugs. Scientists and medical professionals believe that
antidepressant drugs work by increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters.
Several types of treatments have been used for depression, including psychotherapy, pharmacologic and non-
Psychotherapy involves talking about the condition and related issues with a mental healthcare
provider. Psychotherapy is also known as therapy, talk therapy, counseling or psychosocial therapy and
is often used along with medication treatment.
Medications include, but are not limited to, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin
and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) monoamine oxidase
inhibitors (MAOIs), and augmenting with atypical antipsychotics.
Non-pharmacologic treatments include NeuroStar Transcranial Magentic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy*,
electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
NeuroStar TMS Therapy uses an MRI strength magnet to create magnetic pulses aimed
directy to an area of the brain thought to be involved in regulating mood. This results in
an electric current in that part of the brain. It does not involve surgery or creation of a
seizure induction and has minimal side effects.
During ECT, electrical currents are passed through the brain to induce a seizure. It requires
anesthesia and muscle relaxants during administration.
VNS uses electrical impulses through a surgically implanted pulse generator attached to
the vagus nerve to indirectly affect mood centers of the brain.
*NeuroStar TMS Therapy is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adult patients who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication at or above the minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode. NeuroStar TMS Therapy is available by prescription only.
1. Kessler, RC, et al. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity
Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun: 62 (6):617-27.
2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Version IV-TR (2000): American Psychiatric Association
3. Heron, Melonie, et al. Deaths: Final Data for 2006. National Vital Statistics Reports, 57 (14). April 17, 2009.
4. Greenberg, PE, et al. The economic burden of depressive disorders in the United States: How did it change between 1990 and
2000? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2003; 64 (12): 1465-1475.
5. Murray CJ, Lopez AD. Evidence-based health policy – lessons from the Global Burden of Disease Study. Science. 1996; 274
6. Frank, E. & Thase, M.E. (1999). Natural history and preventative treatment of recurrent mood disorders. Annual Review of
Medicine, 50, 453-468.
7. Kessler, RC, et al. The epidemiology of major depressive disorder; results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication
(NCS-R). JAMA. 2003; 289(23): 3095-3105.
8. Kessler, RC. The Epidemiology of Women and Depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2003 Mar: Vol. 74, Issue 1, Pages 5-