350 million individuals worldwide are suffering from depression, this according to the Worldwide Health Organization, and in any given year, 1 out of every 10 Canadians will experience a major depressive disorder or other mental health condition.

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability today. It is more common in women than men, though it can affect individuals of all genders, ages and regions. Those at risk of developing depression include individuals with a family history of mental illness. You are also at risk of developing depression if you suffer from a chronic illness; for example, chronic pain (i.e. fibromyalgia) or terminal cancer.

Depression can be caused by a number of different environmental, psychological and biological factors, including being witness to a traumatic event, the death of a loved one, job loss, divorce, and other everyday stressors. What triggers one to feel depressed may not trigger another.

Major depressive disorder, as mentioned, is the most classic form of depression that one can be diagnosed with. In order to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you must exhibit at least 2 weeks of depressive symptoms, such as constant feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or having a lack of focus and/or motivation in life. These symptoms are felt on an almost daily basis, and can have significant impacts on your life both personally and professionally.

Seasonal depression, also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is another common form of depression that occurs during this time of year. It typically begins in the fall months in Canada, when there is less light, and dissipates upon the arrival of spring. Symptoms of SAD are similar to that of major depressive disorder, and you may also experience other symptoms such as lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, agitation and anxiety.

Postpartum depression can also occur in females following the birth of a child. As with both major depressive disorder and SAD, you can experience constant bouts of crying, a decreased mood, and lack of motivation – however, postpartum depression also has very specific symptoms such as having difficulty bonding with your newborn, feeling withdrawn from friends and family, and severe mood swings.

Despite depression being a very common disorder with many different and effective treatment methods, there is still a strong stigma that is attached to mental illness, making individuals afraid to reach out for help out of fear of what others might think. Still, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, urges anyone who may be feeling depressed to seek medical attention or speak with a trusted individual.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, it is important to take them to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical supervision.

Click here for a wide range of mental health resources shared by Dr. Ali Ghahary