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Things You Need to Know About Depression

Although people use the words depressed or depression to refer to a sad mood, it is much more than just a bad day. Depression is a complicated condition with many aspects.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. Misunderstandings about depression can hinder proper identification and treatment. Additionally, the signs and effects of depression can differ from person to person. The Deployment Health Clinical Center outlines six key aspects of depression:

  • Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. Symptoms of depression and depressive disorders are often underdiagnosed because many people never seek treatment.
  • Depression is more than a mood. Although a depressed mood is one indicator of the condition, others include loss of interest or pleasure in regular activities, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration.
  • Depression is a major cause of disability. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability in the United States for individuals 15-44 years of age.
  • People with chronic illnesses are at a higher risk for depression.
  • Depression impacts all services, ranks and ages. Service members returning from combat deployments have an increased risk of developing depression.
  • Depression is treatable, even severe depression.

While these aspects are universal, depression may manifest in different ways for different people. How depression shows up can vary depending on several of factors, including gender.

The following infographic outlines symptoms of depression and risk factors specific to women.

Depression in Women

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Know the warning signs and don't hesitate to seek help.

Depression is treatable.

General signs of depression

  • loss of interest in daily activities
  • depressed mood
  • decreased energy
  • disturbed sleep
  • decreased appetite
  • concentration issues
  • guilt and reduced self-worth

Conditions co-existing with depression

these mental health conditions may accompany depression and require treatment

  • anxiety
  • eating disorders
  • substance abuse

What are the risk factors for women?

Women's cultural and life circumstances may increase their risk of depression

  • Workplace discrimination
  • work expectation overload
  • sexual or physical abuse
  • 10-15% of women experience depression during pregnancy or following birth

Depression, even severe depression, is treatable. Talk to your health care provider today! Need help finding a provider? Questions on depression? Call the DCoE Outreach Center at (866) 966-1020.

Resources: Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health.

This infographic was created using information from the National Institutes of Health “How Sex / Gender Influence Health & Disease” and the Mayo Clinic “Depression in Women: Understanding the Gender Gap.”

Comments (10)

  • Your article, while helpful and accurate for women, continues the myth that men do not experience depression at the same rates as women, and misses the point entirely that men experience and express depression in an entirely different manner than women. The continued misrepresentation of depression in men perpetrates unhealthy myths that keep men from asking for help. While your article was helpful for women, once again, men are misunderstood and misrepresented, and harmed in the process. I would like to see an article on depression in men that humanizes the experience in ways that men can recognize and accept. Depression affects men and women alike, unlike what your article suggests.

    • Thank you, John for your thoughtful response. We had no intention of downplaying the rates or seriousness of depression in men. This article was only to point out the differences in how it can manifest. We will take your thoughts to our subject matter experts.

  • Our son, an Army Combat Veteran of OIF/OEF( just before their first deployment) had a very close buddy take his own life without any indication he was contemplating this action.
    Our son took this very very hard,to the point of feeling like he should have seen it coming and been able to prevent it from happening. The toll it took on his self inflicted guilt took years before he was able to confront the dark place it kept him.
    Going thru two very intense combat deployments, he came home with many internal demons of depression, anxiety, PTSD, TBI as well as needing full hip replacement at 40 years old. Family and friends did not comprehend the magnitude of what he was experiencing.
    Thru NAMI Family 2 Family and NAMI-Homefront classes, I was gaining knowledge about the functions a person needs to be able to begin to put together and discard the pieces to rebuild ones life.
    Hardships walking back into civilian life, going thru divorce ,losing family contacts began to direct him to finding a different way to immerse himself in something positive and self motivating. ..becoming a full time student, in a well established art college..OCAC.
    This goal has given him purpose, direction and motivation to be able to be in a different environment, learn new disciplines and begin to form new relationships with people sharing his love of the arts. These classes and assignments have helped him express thru his drawings, and other elements to bring a purpose of expression out of some of those dark places. His journey is continuing in more positive plateaus...the growth I've seen is tremendous. Beginning to reconnect with his children and feeling good about his work and creative designs within his second year of school is a positive accomplishment. Depression seems to be lurking underneath because there are times of "what ifs" of the unknown that each person feels at one time or another , but being able to talk about, research materials of artists that have struggled thru depression and identify triggers of the past. He feels there is reward in moving forward.

    • Diane, thank you so much for sharing this heartfelt comment. We are sorry for the loss of your son's friend, and for the struggles your son has faced. It sounds like your son and you have found great healing in giving back to the community. We wish you all the best on this journey.

  • It is hard to believe anything that is even remotely connected with the DVD. I am sorry, but me spending a month hospitalized in Vietnam, and not one Army doctor able to tell me what I could have been exposed to that would cause permanent damage to my skin, organs, and body systems over an entire life time is unacceptable. No reason for 24 environmentally acquired intestinal tumors(I did genetic testing), a brain hypodensity or tumor, malignant and benign skin cancer, chloracne, all amyloidosis (swollen limbs, hands, skin), loss of hair, painful sensitive prostate at 19 years old six months after Vietnam, ringing in the ears, heart disease, atherosclerosis, 100% blockage in left carotid artery (inoperable), throat narrowing, chronic lung infections, bleeding excessively and clotting issues, a number of strokes, migraines, eye damage to back of retinas, hypertension, COPD, and Coma with convulsions and extreme fever of 106+. I have been lied to since June 1971 when I was issued a P-3 profile for permanent defects in my "physical capacity and stamina" and told I was going "home". All my treatment records have been hidden from me all my life because it was "Agent Orange" that ruined me at 19 years old and still lied to at 65 Years old. Look it up. 28426325

  • Z6DOPHospitalized in Vietnam 21days, issued P-3 profile for heart, lungs, intestines, skin, blood, and evacuated out for another week in Japan and USA hospitals. Had MEB with no council or representation, no follow up exams after Evacuation, nothing even though I was hospitalized a month. Deterioration continued, developed other conditions due to exposure to unknown. I have witnessed to much dishonesty to believe anyone at the VA. All the treatment records I have says the opposite of what the VA says. All deception.

  • The VA says "The evidence does not shoe an event, disease, or injury in service. Your service treatment records do not contain complaints, treatment, or diagnosis for this condition (prostate). The evidence does not show a current diagnosed disability. I spent 3 full weeks hospitalized in Vietnam, issued a P-3 profile for permanent defects in my organs and bodies systems, then evacuated out to two other hospitals. Every organ developed problems, and a painful sensitive prostate was diagnosed on Jan 10 1972 and I was hospitalized with that and a systemic respiratory infection, the cause undetermined, which is exactly why the P-3 profile was issued. They had no clue what Agent Orange Exposure was at that time, supposedly. The VA denies it own documents because they prove my service connection that has been denied, and treatment records hidden for 46 years, and some still withheld. How can the VA state such false statements when it has the proof. Is St. Louis destroying documents?

    • Victor, we are sorry for the many difficulties you've faced and the trust you've lost in the VA. There are many providers outside of the military who are willing to help veterans.

  • I am a veteran and have 13 different diagnosis of depression. meds help me cope with life.

    • Gary, depression is not easy to cope with, and we're glad you've found something that works. We hope that you continue to find healing as you work with a provider.

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This page was last updated on: September 14, 2017.