KENILWORTH, N.J. (October 3, 2019)—MerckManuals.com, an online medical reference, will kick off October by highlighting expert information on depression and how to recognize the disorder, a helpful resource for both professional and family caregivers.

The themed content, which will be featured on merckmanuals.com, will include:

a comprehensive essay on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of depression

  • an illustrative pencil video that provides an overview of the disorder
  • a challenging series of quiz questions on the topic of depression
  • a detailed infographic about “Life with Depression”

The compilation of related items on the landing page is timed to acknowledge National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Sunday, October 6 through Saturday, October 12). All of the materials showcased during the awareness campaign, which began Tuesday, Oct. 1, will be permanently stored on the website. The essay on depression can be accessed directly at any time at merckmanuals.com/depression.

While people often use the term depression to describe the sadness or discouraged mood that results from emotionally distressing events, such as a loss of a job or financial hardship, a serious health concern, or death of a loved one, these feelings do not usually represent a mental illness. They are temporary, lasting days rather than weeks or months, and occur in waves that tend to be tied to thoughts or reminders of the distressing event.

“Clinical depression lasts for more than a couple of weeks and may persist for months or even years” said William Coryell, M.D. “Moreover, it interferes with everyday functioning and decreases interest or pleasure in otherwise enjoyable activities.”

Dr. Coryell is a professor of psychiatry at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa and a contributor to MerckManuals.com.

Recognizing Clinical Depression

While clinical depression may not always be reflected in one’s appearance, some people with the disorder may appear miserable, their brows may be furrowed, and the corners of their mouth may be turned down. They may slump, avoid eye contact, show little facial expression, and speak in a monotone voice. They may neglect personal hygiene.

According to the nonprofit organization, Mental Health America, the earlier that mental health problems are recognized and treated, the less it costs and the better the results. Mental health screening tools are available at mhascreening.org.

Symptoms of clinical depression may include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, loneliness, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death