Patients with neuropsychiatric disorders is growing worldwide with 615 million people, or almost 10% of the global population, currently living with a mental health condition. More than 50% of them suffer from depression, which is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.  MDD is a complex and serious mental health condition that affects approximately 5% of all adults and is about 50% more common among women than among men (1). In fact, one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life (2). Depression rates are rising with rates among women and young adults rising the fastest.

Depression can occur at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. Life events such as trauma, loss, or chronic stress can trigger or exacerbate the condition. More than 30 % of patients with MDD are suffering from Treatment-Resistant Depression, i.e. patients who have not responded to at least two approved antidepressant treatments within the same depressive episode.

Depression manifests differently in individuals, but common symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood: Feeling down most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure: Reduced interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Fatigue and low energy: Constant tiredness and a lack of motivation.
  • Changes in appetite or weight: Significant weight loss or gain.
  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or oversleeping.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: Unwarranted self-blame and negativity.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Poor memory and inability to focus.
  • Physical symptoms: Unexplained aches, pains, and digestive issues.

Depression has far-reaching consequences as it significantly impairs an individual’s quality of life, affecting relationships, work, and daily functioning. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, resulting in lost productivity and increased healthcare costs (3).  Depression is also a major risk factor for suicide, and it’s crucial to provide support and intervention for those at risk.

Depression is today treated using a variety of approaches, including various antidepressant drugs. However, most patients do not achieve the desired outcome with 72% of them failing to achieve remission after the first line of treatment. Furthermore, 30% of patients do not recover after 24 months, developing a chronic form of depression.

Depression is a complex mental health condition that affects individuals in diverse ways. It is important to recognize its signs, seek help, and offer support to those who are struggling. With the right treatment and support, many individuals with depression can experience significant improvement in their mental health and overall well-being. Reducing stigma, improved pharmaceutical therapies, better access to mental healthcare, and promoting awareness are critical steps in addressing this widespread issue.

However, depression remains an area of huge unmet medical need and improved therapeutics are clearly needed.

1) Iranpour S, Sabour S, Koohi F, Saadati HM. 2022. The trend and pattern of depression prevalence in the U.S.: data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005 to 2016. J. Affect. Disord. 298:508–15
2) Goodwin RD, Dierker LC, Wu M, Galea S, Hoven CW, Weinberger AH. 2022. Trends in U.S. depression prevalence from 2015 to 2020: the widening treatment gap. Am. J. Prev. Med. 63(5):726–33.
3) Stecher C, Cloonan S, Domino ME. The Economics of Treatment for Depression. Annu Rev Public Health. 2023 Dec 15.