One of approximately 14 million Americans suffer from a form of depression each year. The disorder is characterized by mood fluctuations, low self-attitude, and five or more symptoms that persist for at least two weeks. These include mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating, psycho-motor retardation (slowing down of function), inexplicable crying, irritability, feelings of impending doom, lack of interest in leisure activities, decreased libido, and social withdrawal. Sufferers may also experience polar behavior such as lack of appetite or overeating and constant sleeping or sleeplessness. Bipolar individuals may engage in high-risk sexual activity. If symptoms persist, they can drive sufferers to commit suicide.
Depression is more intense than the normal feelings of sadness or loneliness that everyone experiences occasionally.