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Depression, in finance, refers to a severe and prolonged economic downturn. It usually involves a significant decrease in economic activity, marked by a sustained period of declining output, high unemployment, and deflation. Depressions are more severe and last longer than recessions.


The phonetics of the word “Depression” is /dɪˈprɛʃən/.

Key Takeaways

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  1. Depression is a serious mood disorder that’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. It can interfere with a person’s ability to function in their daily activities.
  2. Depression is not a weakness or something that one can “snap out” of. It’s a medical condition with many possible causes including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
  3. Depression is treatable. The most common forms of treatment include medication (such as antidepressants), psychotherapy (talk therapy), or a combination of both. Lifestyle modifications, such as increased physical activity, improved sleep, and a healthy diet, can also support depression treatment.



The business/finance term “Deppression” is important because it refers to a severe and prolonged downturn in economic activity. In a depression, the economy experiences significant declines in output, high unemployment rates, and deflation or disinflation-often for a period of several years. Understanding this term is critical because periods of depression can lead to major financial distress for businesses, governments, and individuals. They generally require significant policy interventions to overcome and can change the economic behavior and expectations of businesses and investors for years afterward. It helps in generating strategies for economic recovery and creating systems to prevent its occurrence.


Depression in the context of finance/business refers to a severe and prolonged downturn in economic activity. This scenario is marked by a significant reduction in trade and industrial activities, high unemployment rates, and typically severe price deflation. Depressions are characterized by their duration; if an economic downturn lasts more than a few years, it’s referred to as an economic depression. Documented depressions in global history, such as the Great Depression in the 1930s, exemplify challenging periods where the economy has contracted extensively, causing widespread hardship.Understanding the concept of depression is not just crucial for economists, but it also serves a significant role for policymakers, business leaders, and investors. This term helps portray the health of an economy, prompting necessary strategic responses to combat economic decline and foster recovery. Policymakers may formulate fiscal or monetary policies to stimulate the economy, for instance, increasing government spending, cutting taxes, or lowering interest rates. Similarly, business leaders could reassess their strategies in response to changing market conditions—concentrating on cost-cutting or looking for opportunities to pivot. Investors, too, could reevaluate their investment strategies based on economic health, balancing their investment portfolios to minimize risks associated with depression. Hence, the notion of a depression is a critical tool in guiding decision-making steps in the finance/business arena.


1. The Great Depression (1929-1939): The most prominent example of an economic depression is the global financial crisis of 1929, known as the “Great Depression”. This severe depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929. It experienced rapid declines in output, severe unemployment, and deflation. It had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor.2. The Greek Economic Depression (2008-2018): Following the global financial crisis in 2008, Greece fell into a prolonged economic depression. It resulted in a significant decline in economic output, high unemployment rates, and bankruptcy for many businesses. The government debt crisis compounded this economic depression, with the country needing multiple bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.3. The Depression of 1920-21: Though lesser-known, this depression in the US followed the end of World War I. There was a sharp economic contraction leading to high unemployment rates and declines in productivity. It was marked by a severe deflationary period, however, the recovery was relatively quick compared to other depressions.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a depression in finance and business?

A depression refers to a prolonged and significant downturn in economic activity, typically characterized by a severe fall in GDP, high unemployment rates, declining productivity, and long-lasting disruptions in multiple areas of the economy.

How is a depression different from a recession?

While both involve a decline in economic activity, the key difference lies in duration and severity. A recession generally lasts for a few quarters and is less severe, whereas a depression lasts several years and involves a substantial decline in the economy.

What are the indicators of a depression?

Indicators of a depression usually include a drastic decrease in Gross Domestic Product, a high unemployment rate that stays elevated for a long period of time, widespread bankruptcies, and significant deflation or hyperinflation.

Can a depression be predicted?

While economists use a variety of indicators to forecast economic downturns, predicting a depression accurately is very difficult. It generally involves a combination of negative factors, often unforeseen, that come together to severely impact the economy over a sustained period.

What is the most famous example of an economic depression?

The most well-known example of a depression is the Great Depression of the 1930s. Lasting almost a decade, it was characterized by a decline of over 10% in GDP, an unemployment rate of nearly 25%, and significant deflation.

What can cause a depression?

Depressions can be caused by a combination of various factors such as dramatic changes in the stock market, significant financial crises, unchecked economic bubbles, severe natural disasters, or large-scale war.

How does the government typically respond to an economic depression?

Governments usually respond to depressions by implementing various forms of economic stimulus, such as lowering interest rates, increasing government spending, and enacting policies to encourage consumer spending. These measures are aimed at revitalizing economic activity.

What impact does a depression have on businesses?

In a depression, businesses may see a decrease in consumer demand, leading to lower revenues and profits. Some may be unable to stay solvent and could go bankrupt. Furthermore, depressions can lead to higher unemployment rates as businesses lay off workers to cut costs.

Do depressions have any long-lasting effects?

Yes, depressions often lead to long-lasting changes both socially and economically, which may include shifts in government policy, adaptations in business practices, and changes in consumer behavior.

How long does a depression typically last?

While the exact length can vary, depressions generally last several years and are much longer than recessions, which usually last a few quarters. The Great Depression, for example, lasted approximately a decade.

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