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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Depression and Mental Health

This article is the 3rd in a series of six that examine mental health. The focus this month is on poverty and how it affects the mental health of individuals and families.

Depression, though not commonly understood, is believed to be the result of interacting genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression, a mood disorder, is a common type of mental health problem in which a variety of symptoms combine to interfere with daily living, causing pain for the person who is depressed and for those who care about or interact with him or her. It takes various forms, including minor depression and major depression. Major depression results in the person being unable to function normally at work, at school, at home. It can even interfere with eating, sleeping and previously pleasurable activities. Some of the forms of depression include psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder.

source: http://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2010/01/study-youth-now-have-more-mental-health-issues.html

Some of the signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment. (NIMH, 2011b)

Illnesses that can accompany depression include anxiety disorders like PTSD, obsessive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol or other substance abuse or dependence, or other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease. (NIMH, 2011b)

One in five Americans will suffer from a major depression episode at least once in their lifetime, and an equal number will suffer a lesser form of depression. About 19 million or 10% of US adults suffer from depression each year. (AFSP, 2011c) Risks factors specific to depression include: living with a person who is depressed, a prior history of depression, bereavement, and depressogenic cognitive style (a thinking or perception style that causes depression). (NIMH, 2011) Other general risks for depression, as well as for other problems, include exposure to trauma, poverty, social isolation, job loss, unemployment, family disruption, dislocation (e.g., immigration), and a history of trauma. (APA, 2011) and (IOM Panel, 2011)

Mental disorders, including depression, can be prevented from developing, as can emotional and behavioral problems. (Beardslee, /2011) In fact, depression often occurs in conjunction with another issue. Addressing that other issue (e.g., stress-management, social skills, or social support) can help prevent, reduce or eliminate the depression. Hence the prevention of depression can be an outcome of an intervention targeting another matter, such as substance abuse prevention or life skills that facilitate employment. (IOM Panel, 2011; Muñoz, Cuijpers, Smit, Barrera, & Leykin, 2010). According to Muñoz, et al, 22% of all major depressive episodes can be prevented. (Muñoz, et al, 2010) Depression is a brain disease and involves neurotransmitters. It is largely preventable and treatable, such that 80 to 90% of persons with depression can be helped by treatment (AFSP, 2011).

In the U.S., 15.6 million children live with an adult who has had a major depression in the last year. (NRC & IOM, 2009b) Prevention approaches can take various forms, including the prevention or reduction of depression in the parent to assist parent and family, targeting the risk and enhancing protective factors of children of depressed parents who are at high risk of depression themselves. Improving parent-child relationship for the benefit of both, and using two-generational approaches that enhance protective factors and address risk factors. (Beardslee, 2010) The main barriers to reducing depression in parents and families are systemic, provider capacity, and financial. In addition to these obstacles, the National Academies Committee (2009b) identified seven critical elements of a successful system of care: multigenerational, comprehensive, available across settings, accessible, integrative, developmentally appropriate, and culturally sensitive.

For information and resources about depression treatment in Indiana please visit the following websites:


Providers for Adults with Mental Illness or Addiction

Providers for children with Mental Illness or Addiction

Mental Health Indy—with other national and state links. 

Hoosier Assurance Plan (for mental health services)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) mental health service locator—just type in zip code

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)  (2011c)  Risk factors for depression.  Retrieved 10-23-2011 from http://www.afsp.org/files/College_Film/factsheets.pdf.
American Psychological Association (APA) (2011) “Statistical risk factors for suicide,” Monitor on Psychology 32/10. Retrieved 10-25-2011 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov01/suiciderisk.aspx
Beardslee, WR, Chien PL, Bell CC. (2011) “Prevention of mental disorders, substance abuse, and problem behaviors: a developmental perspective,” Psychiatric Services 62/3:247-254.
Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2011) Institute of Medicine (IOM) Panel (Tony Biglan, Irwin Sandler and William Beardslee).  National Prevention Network Prevention Research Conference, Atlanta, GA, Sept.22.
Muñoz RF, Cuijpers P, Smit F, Barrera A, and Leykin Y. (2010) “Prevention of Major Depression,” Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 6:181-212.
The National Academies.  (2009) Mary Jane England and Leslie J. Sim, Editors.  Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Healthy Development of Children; National Research Council; Institute of Medicine “Depression in Parents, Parenting and Children:  Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment and Prevention,” Brief Report. (June). Retrieved 10-25-2011 from http://www.bocyf.org/parental_depression_brief.pdf
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2011a) Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention. Retrieved 10-23-2011 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2011d) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) homepage. Retrieved 10-31-2011 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
National Research Council (NRC) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2009a) Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities.  Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among children, Youth, and young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Mary Ellen O’Connell, Thomas Boat, and Kenneth E. Warner, Editors.  Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.  Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

By Barbara Seitz de Martinez, 2/1/2012