Nearly 1 in 10 adults, or 9 percent, suffer from depression, including 3.4 percent that have "major depression," according to a new national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that this debilitating condition can often be alleviated with the proper treatment—and the first step is to find out if you suffer from it. Today is a good time to do that because it's National Depression Screening Day.
The aim of the screening day is to help people find out if they're depressed by providing a free, anonymous questionnaire that assesses the risk for mood and anxiety disorders. The website also provides referral information to help you find treatment if necessary as well as local organizations offering free depression and anxiety screenings.
In total, the CDC estimates that each year 13 million American adults are afflicted with depression. Symptoms include feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, work and other activities you usually enjoy, decreased energy or fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, irritability, or feeling anxious. If you have five or more of these symptoms for several weeks, you may have depression and should see your doctor.
The new CDC survey, which included more than 235,000 adults, found that certain people are more likely to report major depression, including younger and middle-aged adults, women, and minorities.
If an antidepressant is appropriate for your situation, our Best Buy Drugs report gives you information to choose one in consultation with your doctor or mental-health professional. Our analysis of the available scientific evidence on antidepressants found that no one medication has been clearly shown to be more effective than the others, and notes that both talk therapy and antidepressant medications can relieve depression. But some medications are more likely to cause certain side effects. And you may need to try two or three before finding one that works for you.
We recommend these five choices as Best Buys for initial treatment:
- Generic bupropion (Wellbutrin is the more expensive brand name)
- Generic citalopram (Celexa is the more expensive brand)
- Generic fluoxetine (Prozac is the more expensive brand)
- Generic paroxetine (Paxil is the more expensive brand )
- Generic sertraline (Zoloft is the more expensive brand )
These medicines are substantially less expensive than brand-name antidepressants and are as equally effective. If you have drug coverage, talk with your doctor about finding the antidepressant that has the lowest out-of-pocket cost under your insurance plan.
—Steve Mitchell, associate editor, Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs
If you suffer from depression, here are some questions to ask your doctor about treatment. Read more about cognitive therapy, and to find out what's been proven most effective in treating depression, see our Treatment Ratings (available to subscribers).