What Is Depression? Everything You Need to Know About This Mood Disorder

Medically Reviewed by Madeline Hubbard, RN, BSN

Photo Courtesy: Malte Mueller/Getty Images

What Is Depression?

Some feelings of sadness or fluctuations in mood are normal parts of the human experience. However, there are times when one’s mood can begin to interfere with daily life. Depression is one example of what is known as a "mood disorder." This condition includes feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness that do not go away on their own. It is common for people who are depressed to lose interest or have difficulty participating in many important aspects of life, including work, school, friendships, family, sex, and social relationships.

Moreover, depression is a common condition that impacts over 264 million people of all ages, races, and genders. Due to continued social stigma, access barriers, and lack of resources, it is estimated that only 15 - 24% of people receive treatment for depression in low- and middle-income regions of the world. When left unsupported, depression carries a high risk of significant disability and/or death by suicide.

To make things more complicated, depression can be difficult to understand and discuss, especially with friends and family. Those experiencing depression might feel lost, isolated, or worried about judgment from their peers. It is important to remember that depression is a real illness that warrants treatment and that managing it is possible.