In any given year about 7% of the adult population, 2.5% of the child population, 8.5% of the adolescent population, and 15% of the senior population will suffer from an episode of depression.

About 16% of all adults will experience depression at some time in their lives.

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What is Depression?

Depression is more than just the occasional sadness that most of us experience from time to time. It is an illness characterized by persistent sadness, fatigue, and/or hopelessness that can impact a person’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities such as work and family obligations. It can contribute to relationship problems and even physical pain and illness. Its causes may be biological, situational or a combination of both.

Symptoms of depression in men often look different than in women and so often they go unrecognized. Men are more likely to experience irritability, anger and sleep disturbance. While men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, they are more likely to attempt or commit suicide when they are depressed. Men who have lost their jobs or who are at retirement age are at greater risk of suffering from depression.

While depression is a serious condition, it is very treatable and often curable. Research has indicated that a combination of talk therapy and anti-depressant medications often produces the best results. To schedule an appointment for therapy call 1-866-682-2166 or send an e-mail to

Signs and Symptoms

  • A persistent sadness, anxiousness or “empty” mood
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too little or too much)
  • Changes in eating patterns (reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms (such as headaches, chronic pain, or digestive disorders) that don’t respond to treatment
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Types of Depression

Major depressive disorder

Also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.

Dysthymic disorder

Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

SAD is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression). Visit the NIMH website for more information about bipolar disorder.

Post-partum depression

Post-partum depression is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

** This information is taken from the National Institute of Mental Health

Depression in Senior Citizens

  • Depression affects about 6 million elderly people
  • Elderly women experience depression more often than elderly men
  • Older people, as a group, are most at risk for suicide
  • One quarter of all suicides are committed by the elderly
  • Depression occurs in about 15 percent of those over the age of 65
  • Depression in nursing home residents can reach as high as 25 percent
  • Only about 10 percent of the elderly experiencing depression seek professional help
  • Caucasian men over the age of 80 are six times more likely than any other demographic group to commit suicide
  • Older people with depression have about 50 percent higher healthcare costs

Depression and Suicide

Every year about 30,000 people commit suicide

  • The majority of individuals who commit suicide feel isolated, desperately unhappy and alone
  • People usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain. They are intent on stopping their emotional pain, not on dying
  • Two out of every three people who commit suicide have talked about suicide to friends or family
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24
  • Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14
  • The risk of suicide increases, particularly in adolescent boys, if the person has a conduct disorder or substance abuse problem in addition to depression

What to do if you are feeling suicidal

If in the midst of an acute suicide attack, check yourself into the emergency room or tell someone who can help you find help immediately. This is not the time to try to handle the situation alone.

Click here for a list of suicide hotlines and crisis units in New Jersey.

If you have thoughts of hurting or killing yourself, seek out the attention of a mental health professional immediately. Or you may contact Catholic Charities to schedule an appointment at 1-866-682-2166.*

* If your thoughts of suicide are putting you in imminent danger, a Catholic Charities representative will refer you to a crisis unit for treatment.

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