by Joan-Marie Moss

If you’re not suffering from depression yourself, chances are that anywhere from 15 to 50 of every hundred people you know are. It is an insidious illness that sucks an individual further and further into a state of “impotence” and at the same time impacts the well-being of everyone who comes in contact with him/her. The numbers offered here are somewhat ambiguous because depression is only recently recognized as a real illness and not a figment of one’s imagination.

Diane, who has been suffering from depression for more than eleven years, is one of those who are willing to talk about her illness. She says, “Most people are still very much surprised that I admit and am willing to talk openly about my depression. There is still a stigma associated with the disease. People still don’t understand.” For this reason, we won’t use real names in this article although the people who shared their stories are very real.

Incidences of this illness are staggering. An estimated 10-14 million Americans suffer from depression, according to a recent article in the Alliance for the Mentally Ill publication. Other estimates range as high as 35-40 million.

No one is immune from an attack of depression. Keep in mind that everyone feels “down” or “blue” at times. That’s normal. But it’s been estimated that 26 out of 100 women and 12 out of every 100 men will have a major depressive episode at least once in their lives. For creative individuals the estimate increases to 38 out of 100.

Statistics can be deceiving and any attempt to quantify this disease could be challenged. Particularly since, according to the Alliance for Mentally Ill, we’re talking about those who are only now beginning to and seek help — 80 % of those suffering from depression never seek treatment and suffer needlessly.

DuPage County is not immune. In fact, Dr. Martin Russo, a physician working with Central DuPage Hospital with offices in Bloomingdale, reports that easily forty to fifty percent of his patients are suffering from depression. Social workers and doctors throughout the county report similar statistics.

For this article only the most conservative numbers will be used. The indication, then, is that at least 150 out of every thousand suffer from this debilitating disease. In DuPage County, Illinois that translates to more than of 132,000 — in Elmhurst, approximately 6,300 people — live with some level of depression.

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