Question: What do Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Tipper Gore, Jackson Pollock, and Edgar Allen Poe all have in common?

Answer: All have dealt or currently deal with depression in their lives.

Depression is a serious medical condition. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not something that you can “snap out of” or something that is “just in your head.” Signs and symptoms of depression include a persistent sad or anxious mood, feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and/or activities that were once enjoyed (NIMH, 2006). Other symptoms may include decreased energy and fatigue, difficulty remembering, a change in appetite (including significant weight gain or weight loss), difficulty concentrating, insomnia or oversleeping, thoughts of suicide, irritability, headaches, and chronic pain.

Depressive illnesses are not moments of sadness or blue periods; rather depression is a condition where a feeling of sadness and unhappiness can last months and even years. Depression can affect appetite or sleep and affect your mood and thoughts (NIMH, 2006).

Depression is quite common and nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, in a given year 20.9 million adults suffer from a depressive illness. The sad truth is that few of the 20.9 million people affected by depression seek treatment. Even the most severe depression can be treated. Depression is not a sign of weakness and may not be able to be overcome simply by trying to “pull it together” (NIMH, 2006)

Depression can be hereditary, but it can also occur in families who have no prior history of depression. Women are twice as likely to have depression as men and they are prone to depression after they give birth to a baby. Brooke Shields revealed in the media that she struggled with post partum depression and helped get the word out that depression can happen to anyone (NIMH, 2006). Depression can also be triggered by situational stressors.

If you suspect you might be depressed or if anyone you know is struggling with depression, please feel free to visit the UIS Counseling Center, located in HRB 64 or call the center at: (217) 206-7122

By: Stefanie Rennecker and Vince Flammini.