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E. The Misperception Of Depression

Narrator: This is Science Today. Over one in twenty Americans experience depression every year. Even though it's one of the most common and most serious mental health problems today, there's still some misperception about the illness and its treatment. Ellen Haller, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, says part of the reason may be some people still foster old school thoughts about depression.

Hailer: In the past we used to think that people who had depression where there was a clear cause, a certain stressor that led to it - we called that secondary depression. A stressor being death of a spouse, change to a new job, house burned down or something. That if they were depressed because of that, of course they're depressed - they'll get over it and no treatment was offered.

Narrator: Treatment was instead reserved for those with primary or endogenous depression, in which the cause is not so easily identified.

Hailer: But we now know that they're both as deserving of treatment and people benefit from treatment whether it's a primary or secondary depression. So treatment is definitely the way to go - regardless of whether there's a cause or not.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.