Depression is a common mental disorder, and roughly 350 million people suffer from it worldwide. Depression affects all people regardless of age, geographic location, demographic or social position.The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2030, depression will be the second highest medical cause for disability in the world, second only to HIV/AIDS. To break the stigma around this very real illness that affects millions around the world, we bring you 15 eye-opening research and facts about depression that you absolutely must know.
1. Women are approximately two times more likely than men to suffer from major depression because they may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing it.
Compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels, especially around the time of childbirth and menopause. The American Psychological Association states that the rate of sexual and physical abuse is much higher in women than previously suspected and is a major factor in causing depression. Married women are also more prone to depression, while the opposite is true for men. Women of color are also more likely than Caucasian women to develop depression due to racial and ethnic discrimination, lower educational and income levels, segregation into the low status and high-stress jobs, and unemployment. Men and women experience depression in radically different ways due to their hormonal make-up, and a comprehensive study of the same is highly important in the treatment of it. (source)
2. Depression can cause you to dream up to 3 or 4 times more than you normally would.
Psychologists in the 1970s observed that people suffering from depression reported more dreams than an average person. The quality of dreams experienced during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep was intriguing as well: they were more emotionally intense, there were more negative themed-dreams and more nightmares. Because these unpleasant dreams are often experienced hand-in-hand with insomnia and lesser deep-sleep states (the kind of sleep that refreshes and restores), clinically depressed dreamers wake up feeling exhausted and as though they have returned to waking reality after a long and hard battle. (source)
3. Creativity has been linked to depression, anxiety, and “madness”. Research reveals that writers are 121% more likely to suffer from bipolar depression and 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Many creative individuals like John Lennon, Vincent van Gogh, and Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from depression. Van Gogh, for instance, was plagued with periodic melancholy and perpetual loneliness. His art was a channel and medium for expressing these very themes. Also, Charles Dickens, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill were known to suffer from depression, and so did Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, and Virginia Woolf. The writer Sylvia Plath committed suicide by sticking her head in an oven while her children slept. Earlier studies suggested that there could be an inherited trait that facilitates creativity and mental illness together. While it would be incorrect to say that all creative people risk developing depression, a staggering percentage of artists experience a descent to the underworld in their creative endeavors. (source)
4. According to a study, Psilocybin, the chemical compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, help new brain cells grow and could be used as a treatment for PTSD and depression.
Scientists induced intense psychedelic trips in 12 people using high doses of psilocybin in oral capsule form. A week later, all the volunteers were depression-free. Three months after the experience, five of the 12 subjects still had no symptoms of the condition. Amanda Feiling from the Beckley Foundation said:
“For the first time in many years, people who were at the end of the road with currently available treatments reported decreased anxiety, increased optimism and an ability to enjoy things. This is an unparalleled success and could revolutionize the treatment of depression.”
Scientists involved in the research speculate that the subjects may have experienced a type of “awakening”, the kind achieved by spiritual teaching. (source)
5. Breastfeeding can halve the risk of post-natal depression, according to a large study of 14,000 new mothers. On the flip side, the risk increased substantially in women who planned to breastfeed but were unable to do so.
According to data from the World Health Organisation, 1 in every 10 women will develop depression after giving birth to their child. Post-natal depression is a very real issue and not often talked about even in medical circles. The senior policy adviser at parenting charity NCT, Rosemary Dodds, said:
“Mothers often experience pressures after the birth such as pain, shortage of sleep and anxiety. Breastfeeding can help to relax mothers and reduce stress, so it might play a part in preventing mental health issues developing.’
Earlier studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the mood of the mother and the child, and as such, researchers and mental health professionals encourage further studies into this subject as it is a big problem for many new mothers. (source)