Depression affects an estimated eighteen million Americans each year, more than cancer and almost as many as heart disease. It not only affects thinking and feeling, but acting as well. It is a total body illness which alters a person's thoughts, feelings, behavior, physical health and appearance. More women are likely to become depressed than men, especially if they are unhappily married and/or between the ages of 19-44. One in three women will be affected by depression at least once in their lifetime, one in nine for men (Depression, 1996). Depression hinders a person's ability to enjoy life. Atypical depression presents itself when one can experience pleasure, yet the feeling is short-lived and a lack of motivation soon returns until the next "happy" occasion arrives.
For centuries depression was considered to be a physical and mental weakness yet it is now known that depression has nothing to do with willpower or behavior problems. Depression is more than a bad mood or a short period of stress. Symptoms of depression are said to include, but are not limited to, feelings of sadness, feeling "empty", thoughts of suicide or death, guilty feelings, hopelessness, despair, low energy levels, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, a low sex drive, pessimistic views on life and the future, as well as constantly feeling overwhelmed by attempting day-to-day activities. There may not be a drastic change in behavior if one is born with a depressive illness. Atypically depressed people are often very sensitive to rejection, generally feel very fatigued, and eat and sleep more than most individuals. Atypical depression not only affects those in the prime of life but also children, teens, and the elderly. It is very common in adolescent years or young adulthood, and in these patients it is often chronic.
Long ago, researchers believed that young people didn't have the mental maturity to experience depression.