One person in 25 will experience at least one episode of one of the depressive illnesses we have been looking at, which will be severe enough for them to seek medical attention at least once in a lifetime. Certain types of depression seem to run in families (endogenous depression). Always in such cases suicide is the gravest risk. Depression, in one form or another, directly causes two-thirds of the 4,000 cases of suicide in Britain each year. Late adolescence, middle age and post retirement age are common times for a depression to erupt – menopausal women seem to be particularly at risk.
There is an element of urgency, therefore, in getting depressed people involved in proper medical treatment as soon as possible, for modern drugs and electrical treatment are extremely useful. Waiting or trying ineffective treatments – like the relaxation response in this context – are too dangerous in the face of such dangers.