Depression in America

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities.

National Institute of Mental Health

Many of us may experience a period in our life when we feel sad. But depression goes beyond normal sadness. Depression can severely impact your work, family, and friendships. No one is safe from a bout with depression. In fact, depression impacted over 16 million adults in 2016.

Mental health concerns are common in the United States of America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental health illness impacts 1 in 5 Americans or almost 45 million people. Think about that number, if 1 in 5 Americans are experiencing some form of mental health illness, that is 20% of the population. Almost 60 million office visits to a primary care physician (aka, your doctor) are mental health focused and almost 6 million emergency room visits are due to mental health focus as well. Finally, 13 percent of those 12 years and older have taken an anti-depressant in the past 30 days.

What are the symptoms of depression?

According to the DSM-5, (which is the manual that mental health professionals like Licensed Professional Counselors use to identify and diagnosis mental health conditions) the following description requires at least 5 of the symptoms to be present in a 2 week period for major depressive disorder:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Free depression screening

You can take a free mental health depression screening online. It’s anonymous too. This screening takes about 1 minute to complete. At the end of the screening you will be connected to additional mental health resources. Take a free and anonymous screening at Help Yourself, Help Others. *Please note that screening are for informational and educational purposes.

How is depression treated?

Depression is commonly treated with 2 approaches, psychotherapy (aka, counseling) and medication. One of the main approaches that I use to treat depression is called, Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT. In short, CBT looks at the impacts of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and how they reinforce one another. The typical medication used to treat depression is an anti-depressant such as a SSRI or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Common SSRI medications include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

I believe the best approach to treating major depressive disorder involves a conversation with your primary care physician regarding whether medication is appropriate and psychotherapy (counseling). I encourage all new clients during our first session to discuss medication and how it could help them get better. Many times medication is necessary to help balance out the low and depressed mood to then allow work on changing negative or distorted thinking patterns.


I believe that you deserve more than ok. Ready to make an appointment? Contact me today.

Remember, no great misery goes unnoticed, if you are struggling with your mental health, be sure to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. If you are considering suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, call 9-1-1, or visit the closest emergency room.

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Jeff Simms Licensed Professional Counselor


Jeff Simms is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Counselor in private practice in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Jeff works with adults that want to get better dealing with their anxiety, depression, PTSD, and marriage.