For nearly two years now, the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. As millions of people continue to suffer from massive job loss, financial insecurity, and social isolation, more and more are experiencing symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses. According to researchers from Boston University’s School of Public Health, depression among American adults has increased from 8.5 percent in 2019, to nearly 33 percent in 2021. With one out of every three adults reporting symptoms of depression, National Depression Awareness Month is more important than ever.
While you may be aware of what depression is, Depression Awareness Month is a time to refresh your understanding of it and learn about what treatments are available. Below is everything you need to know about Depression Awareness Month, as well as how you can get involved in the conversation about mental health.
What Is Depression Awareness Month?
The month of October is nationally recognized a Depression Awareness Month. It is a time to help raise awareness about depression and educate others on the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Depression Awareness Month is celebrated by millions through the depression awareness ribbon. Awareness ribbons have been used for centuries, dating back to medieval times when female spectators would give jousting knights a ribbon as a token of their appreciation and support. Today, awareness ribbons, such as the depression awareness ribbon, are symbols of support for various events and social causes.
The ribbon uses the depression awareness color, which is lime green, to celebrate mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder. The color green dates back to the 1800s, where it was used to label psychiatric patients who were considered “insane.” The use of this color today is meant to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and has become a popular way to celebrate Depression Awareness Month.
October is also home to Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9), and World Mental Health Day (October 10), both of which have a large focus on depression awareness. The goal of Depression Awareness Month, and days like World Mental Health Day, is to help others better understand depression, and that starts with understanding what causes it.
Depression is a mental health condition that is typically classified as a mood disorder. It may be described generally as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s ability to perform simple everyday tasks or activities.
Depression is also very widespread. Before the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that around 8.1 percent of American adults ages 20 and over suffer from depression. That number has increased significantly due to the added stress and pressure that millions of people are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
Understanding the causes of depression is an important part of Depression Awareness Month. Spotting the signs of depression can help you get help sooner, which can prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Causes of Depression
Depression can arise from many different life events or experiences. In some cases, people may not be able to pinpoint exactly what caused their depression but can point to factors that may make their symptoms worse.
Common causes of depression include:
- Experiencing trauma or abuse
- Losing a loved one
- Substance abuse
- Social isolation
- Severe illness such as cancer or other terminal diseases
- Sudden or unexpected life changes
- Financial instability
- Marital issues
It’s important to remember that all of the above-mentioned events and experiences are likely to cause feelings of sadness for everyone. Feeling sad is a normal, albeit unfortunate, part of life. That said, if your feelings of sadness last for longer than normal, it may be time to get help.
Types of Depression
Educating others about depression is one of the most important parts of Depression Awareness Month. When people think about depression, they often think of a singular mental illness. This is not always the case. There are several different types of depression, each with its symptoms and causes.
Common forms of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder — Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression and involves intense sadness and a general loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Other symptoms include fatigue, changes in appetite, and even adverse effects on cognitive functioning.
- Persistent depressive disorder — Clinicians often refer to persistent depressive disorder as dysthymia. This is used to describe someone who has experienced a sad or dark mood for at least two years.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) — PMDD can arise as a part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Oftentimes psychologists will consider PMDD to be a more intense form of PMS. The condition is most commonly associated with long periods of emotional distress and feelings of hopelessness.
- Seasonal affect disorder — (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It begins and ends at about the same time every year, typically during the winter or rainy seasons. The symptoms of SAD typically resemble that of major depressive disorder but will subside with the change in seasons.
If you think you may be suffering from a type of depression, it’s important to speak with a mental health professional. Leaving depression untreated can not only worsen your symptoms but also increases your risk for physical injury, substance abuse, or potential suicide. Getting involved in the conversation about mental health is a key part of Depression Awareness Month. Starting the conversation about depression can make it easier to seek help, or show someone who is struggling that you are here to help.
How to Get Involved During Depression Awareness Month
There are several different ways you can get involved during Depression Awareness Month. During Depression Awareness Month, organizations, nonprofits, charities, and mental health facilities across the country come together to help educate others on the impact of mental illness. Many of these organizations, like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, provide the public with free social media graphics to share on their accounts. These free graphics often share statistics about depression, or depression awareness quotes that help shows others they are not alone. Sharing these graphics on social media help you raise awareness for mental illness, as well as promote organizations that are dedicated to helping others during Depression Awareness Month.
Another way you can get involved during Depression Awareness Month is by sharing resources for people who may be facing depression. People who may be experiencing depression or other mental illnesses may find it difficult to reach out for help. These resources can be anything from local mental health services to crisis care centers. One such resource is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) hotline. By sharing resources such as the SAMSHA’s hotline, you can allow others to ask for help in a safe, discrete way.
You can also get in touch with local organizations, community groups, or a mental health facility near you to see how you can help raise awareness about the importance of mental health. Whether you decide to share messages on social media or donate to local mental health charities, getting involved in National Depression Awareness Month is easy.
[su_box title=”Mental Health Assistance” box_color=”#36bdb2″ id=”Expert-Tip-challenge”]If you or a loved one needs help with behavioral health or drug & alcohol addiction, please find a facility that can can help as soon as possible.[/su_box]
What are the Best Methods You Use for Spreading Depression Awareness?
Let us know in the comments section!
Have a topic related to depression you’d like to see us research and discuss?
Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
Are you a member of our Chronic Pain Community?