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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. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

See more on symptoms & treatment

  • Nov 20, 2020
New Research Details Links Between COVID and Mental Health

Several new studies highlight links between mental health disorders and COVID-19. People with mental health disorders and intellectual disabilities are more at risk for contracting COVID and people who have had COVID are at greater risk for developing mental disorders. Understanding these risks can potentially help health professionals and individuals to improve prevention, assessment, and treatment.  

  • Nov 17, 2020
Simple Tips to Help You Get Moving and Boost Mental Well-Being

Among the many consequences of the COVID-19 lockdowns are limitations on physical activity. New research reinforces the mental health benefits of physical activity and exercise as pandemic restrictions continue.

  • Nov 13, 2020
Chronic Pain and Mental Health Often Interconnected

Chronic pain and mental health disorders often occur together. In fact, research suggests that chronic pain and mental health problems can contribute to and exacerbate the other.

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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 active participant, 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.
Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona
Distinguished Life Fellow, APA

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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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SEPT 29 2020

Social media use linked with depression, secondary trauma during COVID-19
Penn State News

Researchers found that social media usage was related to both depression and secondary trauma during the early part of the COVID-19 outbreak. Can’t stop checking social media for the latest COVID-19 health information? You might want to take a break, according to researchers at Penn State and Jinan University who discovered that excessive use of social media for COVID-19 health information is related to both depression and secondary trauma.

SEPT 29 2020

New study shows symptoms of depression have more than tripled since start of the pandemic
The Denver Channel

A new study out of Boston University has found depression in adults and teenagers has more than tripled since the pandemic started. According to researchers, symptoms of depression among Americans has increased from 8.5 percent pre-pandemic to 27.8 percent. It is a precipitous rise in an illness that can create a loss of enthusiasm, feelings of hopelessness, changes in diet, and changes in sleep patterns.

SEPT13 2020

Is It OK to Reveal Your Anxiety or Depression to Your Boss?
Wall Street Journal

Mental-health issues have soared during the pandemic and companies are providing benefits. But before asking for accommodations, consider whom to talk to and what you need. For many, 2020 has ushered in fears of falling sick and losing a job, tension over the coming election and racial inequality, and a feeling of being overwhelmed by an untenable work-life juggle. Meanwhile, some bosses are revealing vulnerabilities and asking, “How are you?” in a way that indicates they don’t expect a rote upbeat response.

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

Felix Torres, MD, MBA, DFAPA
August 2020