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ey Facts

  • Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder with 121 million people affected worldwide;
  • Symptoms include low mood, loss of interest, low self-worth and poor sleep, appetite and energy levels;
  • The tendency to develop depression may be inherited although both biological and psychological factors probably play a role;
  • The course of depression varies from one episode to a life-long disorder.

What is depression?

Depression is a common psychiatric disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities.

The tendency to develop depression may be inherited; there is some evidence that depression may run in families. Most experts believe that both biological and psychological factors play a role. The course of clinical depression varies widely, from one episode to a life-long disorder.

The scale of the problem

Depression is a common disorder, affecting about 121 million people worldwide. It carries a high burden in terms of treatment costs, effect on families and carers and loss of workplace productivity, and is considered by the WHO to be the leading cause of disability worldwide. By the year 2020, the WHO project that depression will be the second highest contributor to the global burden of disease for all ages and both sexes.

A recently reported study revealed an overall prevalence of depressive disorders in Europe of 8.56%. Higher prevalence was seen in urban areas of Ireland and the UK, while particularly low prevalence was seen in Spain.

Depression fact sheet – PDF