What Is Depression? Some 15 million Americans struggle with depression—an illness that comes in many forms—from major depression and seasonal affective disorder, to dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Depression, even the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder. As with many illnesses, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents, or military combat. Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD including military troops who served in wars; rescue workers for catastrophes like the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.; survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing; survivors of accidents, rape, physical or sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes; and those who witness traumatic events. Family members of victims can develop the disorder as well.