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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

  • Jan 08, 2019
Preventing Depression Among At-Risk Youth

Depression is common among adolescents worldwide, affecting an estimated 4–5 percent of adolescents each year. It can lead to serious social and educational difficulties and is also a major risk factor for suicide. Despite effective treatments, only about one in four youth with depression receive treatment. There are effective ways to prevent youth depression, yet few at-risk youths have access to prevention services.

  • Dec 21, 2018
Behavioral Activation Can Help with Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and a major cause of disability. Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are the most common and effective treatments, yet many people with depression do not get treatment.

  • Dec 21, 2018
Regular Outings to Theater, Concerts or Museums May Help Prevent Depression

Depression affects an estimated one in six people at some point in their lives. Older adults may be particularly vulnerable because of experiencing losses, living alone or poor health. A new study finds that engaging in cultural activities such as visiting museums or going to the theatre on a regular basis can help prevent depression.

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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

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Learn about Seasonal Affective Disorder, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.

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Trish’s Story

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.

Read More

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Editor's Choice

DEC 10, 2018

Depression in Seniors: Why the Holidays Can Be Hard

US News and World Report

During the holidays, our thoughts may gravitate to memories of our youth, growing up and time spent with family and friends. But as often happens when we age, family members and friends pass away. Loved ones move far away because of family and job obligations. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can take hold, especially during the holidays, a time that in the past was filled with activities and traditions with family and friends.

DEC 9, 2018

The FOMO Is Real: How Social Media Increases Depression and loneliness

Healthline

Despite the popularity of social media platforms and the rapidity with which they’ve inserted themselves into nearly all facets of our lives, there’s a remarkable lack of clear data about how they affect us personally: our behaviors, our social relationships, and our mental health. In many cases, the information that’s available isn’t pretty. Studies have linked the use of social media to depression, anxiety, poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, inattention, and hyperactivity — often in teens and adolescents.

NOV 27, 2018

Proven ways to cope with seasonal affective disorder

Today Show

Winter is famously hard on mental health, but it can be unbearable for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. To seek relief, some people turn to dietary supplements. But do they really work? Here's what really helps..

Resources

Additional Resources and Organizations

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute on Mental Health

Physician Reviewed

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
January 2017