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is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities.
Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.
The economic cost for this disorder is high, but the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
Depressive illnesses often interfere with normal functioning and cause pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them.
This pamphlet briefly describes three of the most common types of depressive disorders.
However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.
Whether this represents a psychological predisposition or an early form of the illness is not clear.
Serious depression can destroy family life as well as the life of the ill person. Most people with a depressive illness do not seek treatment, although the great majority even those whose depression is extremely severe can be helped.