About Depression

Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 350 million people worldwide.2 Often a debilitating disorder, depression results in a persistent state of sadness that interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, and physical health.

Facts on depression:

  • Depression can be a lethal disease leading to more than 1 million deaths from suicide each year2
  • Overall, women are more likely than men to suffer from depression2
  • Depression is a leading cause of disease burden and disability around the world2,3
  • Depression has no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries15
  • The economic burden of depression is huge and includes health and social service needs, lost employment and reduced productivity, and impact on family and caregivers15
  • Researchers estimate that by the year 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease burden worldwide3

What causes depression? 

While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that depression is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells.

How are depressed patients treated? There are drug and non-drug treatments for depression.  Depression is often initially treated with psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant drugs. It is believed that antidepressant drugs work by increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters.

While antidepressant drugs work for many people, many still do not receive adequate treatment.16 For these patients, the effects of depression can still be debilitating. These patients need a new proven depression treatment option.

Depression Frequently Asked Questions

What is major depression?

Depression is a serious medical illness that lasts two or more weeks and interferes with a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks and enjoy activities that previously brought pleasure.

What causes depression?

The exact cause of depression is not known, but the leading scientific theory is that depression is caused by an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. A person’s genetic makeup and life history may also determine a person’s tendency to become depressed.

How prevalent is depression?

Major depression is estimated to affect more than 350 million people worldwide.2

Is depression a serious disease?

Yes. The United States National Institute of Mental Health maintains that, “Depressive illness can often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have the disorder, but to those who care about them. Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the ill person.”

Depression can be a lethal disease leading to more than 1 million deaths from suicide each year.2 Along with being a huge economic burden, depression is a leading cause of disease burden and disability around the world.2,3,15 Researchers estimate that by the year 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease burden worldwide.3

Is there a cure for depression?

There is no known cure for depression. However, with effective treatment, many patients can remain symptom free and can lead normal lives.

Are some people more likely to become depressed than others?

Yes, depression is known to be hereditary so depression may occur in some people who have a particular genetic makeup that make them more likely to develop depression. However, the exact nature of these genetic characteristics is not known. Other factors may contribute to an individual’s likelihood of experiencing depression. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Medical illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders
  • Serious personal losses, difficult relationships, financial problems, or any stressful changes in life pattern
  • Certain medications may increase vulnerability to depression

What are the symptoms of depression?

According to ICD-10 classifications of mental and behavioral disorders, depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing a depressed mood, a loss of interest or enjoyment, and reduced energy leading to diminished activity. Other common symptoms include17:

  • Reduced concentration or attention
  • Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Ideas of guilt and unworthiness
  • Bleak and pessimistic view of the future
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Diminished appetite
  • Ideas of self-harm or suicide

If you feel you are experiencing any of these depression symptoms, contact your doctor and ask about your depression treatment options.

What are the current approved treatments for depression?

There are non-drug and drug therapies available to treat depression. Depression is often initially treated with psychotherapy (talk-therapy) and antidepressant medications administered together. Although antidepressants can be effective for some patients, they do not work for everybody. Additionally, antidepressants often result in unwanted side effects.

Many patients do not receive adequate benefit from antidepressant medications and/or cannot tolerate the side effects caused by them.16 For these patients, alternative treatments that involve the use of a medical device are available. These treatments include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses short pulses of a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. The pulsed magnetic field may have a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters levels. Treating depression with transcranial magnetic stimulation, also referred to as NeuroStar TMS Therapy®, provides a breakthrough depression treatment for those who have not benefited from antidepressant medications.*