The Cleveland Clinic

Depression:
Major Depression

An individual with this type of depression feels a profound and constant sense of hopelessness and despair.

Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

Who Experiences Major Depression?

In the U.S., approximately 10% of people suffer from major depression at any one time and 20%-25% suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetimes. Most people associate depression with adults, but it also occurs in children and the elderly -- two populations in which it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Approximately twice as many women as men suffer from major depression. This is partially because of hormonal changes throughout a woman's life: During menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage and menopause. Other contributing factors include increased responsibilities in both professional and home lives -- balancing work while taking care of a household, raising a child alone, or even caring for an aging parent. However, depression in men may also be under-reported.