Life is hard.
As such, it is normal and expected to feel down and dejected periodically. Our culture can imply that we should be “having fun” and “enjoying our life” all the time. In a life fully lived, with its unpredictability and range of experiences, it is unrealistic to be “happy” day in and day out, and it can be harmful to hold on to that constant appearance of “happiness” as an ideal. But clinical depression is different than the usual ups and downs of life. It is a deep sense of despair, hopelessness and lack of meaning that can cause enormous suffering and contribute to poor decisions, up to and including suicide.
Depression is common and anyone who experiences it should know that it affects men, women, teenagers and even children. Each year depression affects about 16 million adults, or about seven percent of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Over the course of a lifetime, approximately 20 percent of people in the U.S. will experience an episode of diagnosable depression, according to research
published in the journal Psychological Medicine by experts in the field Evelyn Bromet at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Ronald Kessler at Harvard Medical School.