Depression is the most common cause of disability worldwide.

The scale of the problem

  • Depressive disorders represent one of the greatest — if not the greatest — challenges to global health in the 21st century.
  • By 2030, it will be the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease.
  • It directly impacts our campus and local community, cutting across generations, genders, ethnic origins and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • It is the strongest risk factor for suicide. In 2010, worldwide deaths from suicide outnumbered deaths from war, natural disasters, and murder.
  • 50% of people treated remain depressed following initial treatment.
  • Depression worsens the outcome of other common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Many factors make getting help harder

  • People who don’t suffer from depression often don’t understand how debilitating it is. For those afflicted, it’s not just a matter of “cheer up” or “snap out of it.”
  • The symptoms make ordinary daily activities seem impossible. People suffering from depression feel sad or hopeless for an extended time. They feel tired and slowed down, restless and irritable.
  • Those afflicted lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They experience problems concentrating, remembering and making decisions, as well as changes in sleep and appetite.
  • The majority of depressed individuals do not seek or receive any treatment, in large part due to self-blame.
  • Many sufferers worry that they will be “found out” and that people will judge them for having depression, due to the social stigma.
  • Depression is a real societal problem. We don’t fully understand it, so we don’t know how to talk about it and get help for ourselves or loved ones.

It is also an economic issue

  • It has a devastating worldwide economic impact. In the U.S. alone, that impact — in medical, long-term care and lost productivity costs — is more than $210 billion.
  • Despite the enormous costs associated with the condition, research on depression is grossly underfunded worldwide.