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Help With Depression

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

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What is the difference between normal sadness or grieving and depression?

Everyone experiences a range of emotions over the course of days and weeks, typically varying based on events and circumstances. When disappointed, we usually feel sad. When we suffer a loss, we grieve. Normally these feelings ebb and flow. They respond to input and changes. By contrast, depression tends to feel heavy and constant. People who are depressed are less likely to be cheered, comforted or consoled. People who recover from depression often welcome the ability to feel normal sadness again, to have a “bad day,” as opposed to a leaden weight on their minds and souls every single day. More

Once a person has been diagnosed and treated for depression, is it likely to return?

Of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder, who are treated and recover, at least half are likely to experience a recurrent episode sometime in their future. It may come soon after or not for many years. It may or may not be triggered by a life event. After several episodes of major depression, a psychiatrist may suggest long-term treatment. More

What kinds of treatments work for depression?

A wide variety of treatments have been proven effective in treating depression. Some involve talking and behavioral change. Others involve taking medications. There are also techniques that focus on neuromodulation, which incorporates electrical, magnetic or other forms of energy to stimulate brain pathways. Examples of neuromodulation include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), vagus-nerve stimulation (VNS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and the experimental deep-brain stimulation (DBS).

The choice of therapy should be guided by the nature and severity of depression, past responses to treatment, and the patient’s and family’s beliefs and preferences. Whatever approach is selected, the patient should be a willing and actively participate, engaging in psychotherapy or regularly taking the medication, for example. More

What do I need to tell my doctor when discussing my feelings of depression?

Total openness is important. You should talk to your doctor about all of your symptoms, important milestones in your life and any history of abuse or trauma. Also tell your doctor about past history of depression or other emotional symptoms in yourself or family members, medical history, medications you are taking — prescribed or over-the-counter, how depression has affected your daily life and whether you ever think about suicide. More

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About the Expert:

Alan Gelenberg, M.D.
Chair of Department of Psychiatry
Penn State University, College of Medicine

Trish’s Story

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Trish was a 51-year-old woman who was brought to the emergency room by her husband. She said, “I feel like killing myself.” She had lost her interest in life about four months before. During that time, she reported depression every day for most of the day. Symptoms had been getting worse for months. More

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APA Resources

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Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5

Understanding Mental Disorders is a consumer guide designed to promote education and understanding among anyone who has been touched by mental illness.

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 Editor's Choice
  • December 10, 2015

The depression storyline on 'You're the Worst' was a bold move, here’s why it worked
Washington Post

While some fans have been skeptical of the unexpected plot, the show has also been praised for portraying clinical depression with authenticity. As the season progressed, Gretchen’s depression changed the tone of “You’re the Worst,” in some cases causing it to feel like a different show altogether. In fact, if you’d just casually tuned in to episode nine, it may have looked like another show altogether. More


  • December 10, 2015

Counselling, Antidepressant Provide Same Results For Major Depression
Tech Times

Researchers found anti-depressants are just as effective as counseling in treating moderate to severe depression. Led by researchers from Danube University, the study found an overall improvement of 45 percent in depression rates among patient groups who took different treatment techniques. More

Resources

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance


Mental Health America


National Alliance on Mental Illness


National Institute on Mental Health

Physician Review By:

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
March 2015