It's Your Health
This article was produced in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada.
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About 11% of men and 16% of women in Canada will experience major depression in the course of their lives. Depression can limit your quality of life, affect relationships, lead to lost time from work or school and contribute to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. Sometimes it leads to suicide. Fortunately, for most people, depression can be treated effectively.
Everyone has periods of unhappiness in their lives, such as the loss of a loved one or job dissatisfaction. Many people become temporarily down when things don't seem to be going well. These feelings are a normal part of life.
Major depression is a clinical term used by psychiatrists to define a time period that lasts more than two months in which a person feels worthless and hopeless.
Many factors contribute to the development of major depression. An individual may be genetically predisposed to depression, and his or her risk can be increased by several external factors. They include:
Some people suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects them at the same time every year, usually in the winter when there is less natural light.
Due to hormonal changes, women may experience postpartum depression after giving birth or depression around menopause.
Depression can affect the way you think and behave and can have physical effects as well. Some of the signs you should be aware of are:
Depression is an illness that can be treated. The first step in the recovery process is to recognize that it is an illness, not a sign of personal weakness. Learning that you are not alone, that help is available, is often the start of recovery for many people with depression.
Each individual is unique, requiring a different approach to recovery. The most common and successful treatment is psychological counseling, combined with anti-depressant medication.
Support from family, friends, co-workers and self-help groups can also make a big difference in how well and how quickly the person with depression recovers.
If you or someone close to you suffers from depression, these points may help:
The Government of Canada works to help Canadians maintain and improve their mental health, including coping with depression. Within its jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works to:
In 2007, the federal government provided funding to establish and support the Mental Health Commission of Canada to lead the development of a national mental health strategy, create a knowledge exchange centre and reduce the stigma about mental illness.
For more information on depression, contact the following:
Original: February 2009
ęHer Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Health, 2009