I have been feeling depressed and have lost interest in several things that I used to enjoy. Some days, it is difficult to do much of anything. Is depression a mental illness? Should I see a doctor? Thanks, Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, depression is a serious, but treatable, mental illness. It is a medical condition, not a personal weakness.

It is also very common. Major depression affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some estimate that major depression may be as high as 15%. It is not unusual for most people to feel sadness as a reaction to loss, grief, or injured self-esteem, but clinical depression, called “major depressive disorder” or “major depression” by doctors, is a serious medical illness that needs professional diagnosis and treatment.

Be well,