From Pap smears to blood pressure tests, you know your body needs routine screenings to stay in tip-top shape. Turns out, the same thing is true for your mind. October 8 is the 25th annual National Depression Screening Day, part of an initiative launched by the Screening for Mental Health Organization. The campaign’s hope is to raise awareness about how prevalent depression can be—one in eight American women will struggle with clinical depression in her lifetime, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Beyond spreading the word, the point of National Depression Screening Day is to smash the stigma surrounding the disease, which is often misunderstood. Read on to learn the truth about depression (and visit nami.org to find support if you think you may have depression).
Myth: There’s Only One Type of Depression
Truth: When people mention depression, chances are they’re talking about what’s known as major depressive disorder, which is also sometimes called clinical depression. “Just like with anxiety, there are different types of depression from a diagnostic level,” says Matthew Goldfine, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York and New Jersey. Another kind of depression is persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia. About 1.5 percent of American adults experience it a year, compared to the 6.7 percent who go through major depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“Dysthymia is similar to depression but with less intense symptoms,” says Goldfine. It usually occurs for a longer period of time than clinical depression, like two or three years. Clinical depression can hang around for as little as two weeks, although it often lasts for longer than that. There are other varieties beyond clinical depression and dysthymia, like bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.