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Mindful : February 2018
All of these factors make treatment difficult, because each sufferer will need something dif- ferent. Indeed, treatment for depression is a bit of a g uessing game, with only a 50% success rate with the first intervention tried. Antidepressants work sometimes, but not always. Talk thera- pies help some people, but not others. Someone may feel better with increased social contact, a change in relationships, or a new job. For others, becoming less busy or starting an exercise regime is what makes the difference. Sometimes the passage of time is what helps. Unfortunately, because depression plays havoc with the capacity to see things accurately, it’s hard for a depressed person to know what they need. And while most people recover from a depressive episode, it’s a chronic, relapsing condition, with recurrence ever more likely each time it strikes. It’s commonly accepted that if you experience even one depressive episode, you have a 50% greater chance of experiencing another. Key Facts About Depression BY THE NUMBERS In 2015, over 16 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode (6.7% of the population). The condition affected around 3 million US teenagers from 2015 to 2016. Women are twice as likely to repor t experiencing depression as men. For women, the peak age for an episode is between 40 and 59 years. In order for a diagnosis of depression to be made, low mood must be present for two weeks, along with at least four other typical symptoms (such as sleep problems, change in appetite, inability to concentrate, low self-esteem, or suicidal thoughts). The causes of depression are complex, and not fully understood, but may include biological factors (such as hormonal or chemical changes), past or present life stressors, patterns of negative thinking, medication side effects, and/or genetic predisposition. Dodging the wrecking ball At this point you might be thinking, “Now you’re going to tell me that this is where mindfulness fits in.” After all, doesn’t the practice of paying attention to the present moment enhance our ability to see clearly, stabilize the mind, and be freed from unskillful patterns of thinking and behavior? Doesn’t it have salutary effects on the mind, brain, and body? Well, yes. But, also, no. Psychologists widely agree that mindfulness has an important role to play in managing the condition—as a self-care practice, and by helping us to tune in to the natural ebbs and flows of energy and mood. In fact, having a regular mindfulness practice may help someone who struggles with depres- sion to notice when they’re at risk, allowing them to take appropriate action, if not to avoid an episode, then to at least minimize its impact. “I think somebody who has a mindfulness 1234 44 mindful February 2018 mental health