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23 Psychological Facts About Depression You Might Not Know

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Imagine suddenly losing interest in some of your most well-loved activities or feeling a sense of hopelessness you can’t shake. Or imagine having a sense of foreboding and sadness that seemingly came out of nowhere. Sometimes, depression can make its way into your life without warning, and it’s never a fun experience. 

This mental condition is a harsh reality for many people worldwide. Naturally, it makes sense that you’d want to learn more about it. Read on to discover some essential and real-world psychological facts about depression.

Read Next: You might also be interested in these facts about anxiety.

23 Psychological Facts About Depression

Depression is a tough subject and can be a challenging topic to approach. This list on interesting facts about depression will help by letting you in on facts that include everything from the nature of depression to statistics and treatments.

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1. Depression Is More Common in Ukraine

Starting things off, here are some recent statistics to get your brain warmed up. According to the World Population Review and the World Health Organization, the latest 2023 depression rates estimate that Ukraine suffers from the highest rate of depression, with a total of 6.3% of its population. 

Next in line, Estonia, Australia, and the United States all tie for the second-highest depression rates, with 5.9% of the population.

2. Depression Is More Than Just Being Sad

Many people make the mistake of thinking that depression equates to sadness, but that isn’t the case at all. Regardless of age or mental health, everyone experiences some form of sadness – a natural emotion that usually has a cause at the forefront.

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Depression is much more than that. It is a chemical imbalance with no apparent cause or reason that can be challenging. So, equating it to sadness is an inaccurate representation.

Read More: Here are some psychological facts about sadness that might interest you.

3. Depression Is a Serious Illness

There is a common misconception that depression (and mental health conditions in general) shouldn’t be considered ‘real illnesses.’ That couldn’t be further from the truth. With that said, what is depression?

The American Psychiatric Association defines it as a medical and mental illness affecting how one thinks, acts, and feels. It causes persistent feelings of sadness that you can’t shake and is often incredibly debilitating both physically and mentally. 

4. There Are Many Types of Depression

Depression comes in many varieties, some more long-term and severe than others. Also, some types of depressive disorders are more treatable, while others remain resistant. As it stands, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes several different types of depression, but here are some of the most common:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
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5. Depression Affects Your Thinking

Depression often leads to those little voices in your head telling you things that aren’t true. They can make you feel bad about yourself and feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sadness. But the nature of this condition means it affects your thinking – often distorting it. 

It can be frustrating to deal with these unwelcome thoughts, so it’s important to remember that these thoughts are no fault of your own but rather your mind playing tricks on you. 

6. Depression Affects Your Physical Health (Not Just Your Mind)

More often than not, depression symptoms manifest in physical symptoms, not just psychological ones. Those with depression often suffer from chronic fatigue or pain, headaches, and stomach problems.  

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Depression can also disrupt your sleep or result in difficulty concentrating or making decisions, memory problems, and changes in appetite (often leading to weight gain or loss). In rare circumstances, this disorder can impact your body so much that it increases your risk of having a heart attack.

7. Depression and Anxiety Often Come Together

You’ve most likely heard this before, but it’s a known fact that people with depression are more likely to have anxiety. Around 65% of people suffering from depression will have anxiety as a coexisting disorder.

Depression is often comorbid (exists simultaneously) with other conditions and illnesses. This is another reason antidepressants are not enough on their own and often need to be paired with some form of therapy.

8. Depressed Brains May Look Different

In a study published in 2019, researchers looked at structural and functional changes in the brain of individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The findings of medical MRI imaging show that people with MDD have structurally different brains from those without it. 

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This is usually seen as volume differences in the white and gray matter or enlarged ventricles. Some studies have suggested that depressed people also have a slightly smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for long-term memories. 

Read More: Check this out if you want to learn more facts about the brain

9. Depressed People Don’t Always Look Unhappy

Have you ever heard the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Well, that goes for depression, too. You often can’t tell if someone else is depressed. It is easy to miss the signs, especially when the one dealing with it is good at hiding their true feelings.

Depressed people don’t always cry all the time or look tired and hurt, but they can be smiling and laughing along with you like nothing is wrong. A lot of the time, they tend to act happy around others to avoid the topic altogether. 

So it’s always important to be mindful of the feelings of others, especially when you don’t know what they are going through.

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10. There Are Different Causes of Depression

Depression as a disorder doesn’t have one set cause. In some cases, a person’s biology and genetic makeup can make them more susceptible to developing a depressive disorder in their lifetimes. When genetics and chemical imbalances are the primary cause, these cases are better treated with medicine or psychotherapy.

On the other hand, depression might be triggered by one’s environment, whether exposure to a traumatic event or losing a loved one. In these cases, the typical treatment method leans toward counseling and therapy instead of antidepressants.

Other causes of depression include sudden hormone changes and substance abuse.

11. Women Are More Affected By Depression

As mentioned before, depression can often be caused by sudden changes and influxes in hormones, so it makes sense that women are more likely to be affected by depression. Women are almost twice as likely to develop depression than men.

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To put it more into perspective, several forms of depression are exclusive to women. Disorders like this include Postpartum Depression (PPD), which affects one in nine women after childbirth, on average, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Women tend to be more at risk for developing depression before and after pregnancy. This is sometimes attributed to the fluctuations in the estrogen and progesterone hormones in the body and brain. 

12. There Are Many Different Treatment Options

Treatment varieties for depression can either be psychological or medicinal. The psychological methods include all different forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, psychotherapy, solution-focused therapy, person-centered, and the like. 

Each type of therapy has different strategies and focuses, so they don’t work the same for everyone (but more on that later).

Medicinal treatment methods include antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These are the two most common, but they target specific neurochemicals to lessen depressive symptoms.

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13. Not All Treatments Work For Everyone

Now that you know about the different causes of depression and the treatment types available, you can put two and two together. Not all types of treatment will work for every single person with depression.

Therapies are expansive, and each type has many different methods and goals that don’t work the same for everyone. That’s why it takes plenty of trial and error, going to other therapists, and trying different methods to identify the best for you.

Similarly, not all types of medication and antidepressants affect the body the same way, and it often takes a few doctor’s appointments to find the right prescription that works.

14. It Often Goes Undiagnosed or Misdiagnosed

Depression is an understandably complex illness with many underlying causes and reasons for its development. The criteria for being diagnosed are found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and are incredibly specific for each disorder.

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To be diagnosed with depression, around five or more symptoms must be present consistently for at least two weeks. Due to these diagnostic criteria, diagnoses can often go missed or confused with other disorders with overlapping symptoms.

Also, undiagnosed cases can usually be found among men since they are less likely to seek help for mental illness than women.

15. Depression Usually Develops in Young Adulthood

Depression affects people of all ages, but for the most part, people who get it first develop it in their young adulthood. This includes people in their late teens to mid-twenties, so around 18 – 25 years of age.

16. Children Aren’t Immune to Depression

While depression is more commonplace among adults, it doesn’t exempt children from it. Sure, children don’t deal with much of the financial stress or ‘adult issues’ like their older counterparts, but childhood comes with worries of its own.

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The CDC estimates on children’s mental health show that 4.4% of children between 3 and 17 were diagnosed with depression – that’s roughly 2.7 million children. These statistics were taken between 2016 and 2019, but the fact remains that children are also susceptible to depression.

You might want to read my article on interesting facts about schizophrenia.

17. Exercise Is a Good Way to Manage Depression

You might have heard somewhere that exercise can improve your mood, which certainly has some truth. A good workout has been known to improve mood, alleviate stress, and improve mental clarity.

That’s why exercise can be a simple and cheap way to manage depressive symptoms. No, it doesn’t cure depression or make it disappear, but it helps for some momentary positivity. How does it work, though?

When you exercise, certain chemicals in your brain are released, mainly serotonin and other endorphins. These chemicals improve mental clarity and make you feel better; in the long run, they can improve your overall mood and sleep patterns.

So it is always recommended to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, whether it’s by walking, running, weight-lifting, or doing yoga

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18. Diet Can Affect Your Depression

You are what you eat, as they say – if you eat better, you will feel better. The same goes for your diet and depression. Again, like exercise, your diet can’t cure your depression, but a healthy and balanced diet can alleviate the symptoms.

Certain foods have been known to affect emotional regulation and mood. Too much sugar, for example, has been found to affect the chemical balance in your brain and can increase your risk of developing and experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms.

That’s why a healthy diet, filled with good, whole foods and organic ingredients, can pick your mood up and make you feel a little better. You should remember that while lifestyle changes like diet and exercise help, they aren’t cures and must be supplemented with therapy or medication. 

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19. Alcohol Is a Depressant

Alcohol is a psychotropic depressant, which slows the central nervous system and impacts the efficiency of neurotransmitters, which can worsen your mental health. To put it simply, alcohol and depression don’t mix.

While alcohol can produce temporary joy and make you feel good, over the long term, it makes you more susceptible to depression. If you already suffer from depression, alcohol will only make you feel worse.

You might enjoy reading my article on Psychological Facts about Eyes.

20. Smoking Is Linked to Depression

Before you start to wonder – no, smoking doesn’t cause depression but does correlate. Studies have found that people struggling with depression are more likely to reach out and grab a smoke. 

This is typical behavior for many people who experience some stress. Still, cigarettes are one of those substances, similar to alcohol, that act as depressants and make you feel worse in the long term.

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21. Depression Can Also Be Difficult For Your Loved Ones

Let’s get one thing straight – depression is tough to deal with, especially for the one struggling with it. But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that it affects those around you too. Depression can often lead to loved ones feeling that they aren’t wanted or unable to help you. This can lead some to drift away.

In other cases, those around you may feel overwhelmed and affected by depression and its toll on you and your immediate family. Remember, there are plenty of helplines that you can call if you are close to someone with depression who can talk to you and help you. 

22. Other Illnesses Increase the Risk of Developing Depression

There are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, those suffering from chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, aphasia, or many other conditions, have been found to have an increased risk of developing depression. 

It makes sense when you think about it since having these conditions can be a life-changing event, triggering the onset of depression.

But on the other hand, people with depression are slightly more likely to develop other health conditions, like heart disease or autoimmune disorders.

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23. Severe Cases of Depression Can Lead to Suicide

Depression as a mental illness is severe – that much has already been established. While some cases are mild and easily treatable, others are much more severe, and people have difficulty dealing with this illness.
It’s important to remember that in some rare cases, depression can be so severe that it leads to suicide. That is why it’s vital to remember critical helplines in your area, or international suicide hotlines, for you or anyone around you who might be struggling.

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At New Interesting Facts, we have an editorial policy and a 3 step review process to ensure we get our facts straight. However, we are a very small team, and we sometimes get it wrong, or information becomes outdated. Please let us know if you think we’ve gotten something wrong.

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