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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 22, 2021
Talking about Veteran’s Mental Health

The questions and answers below are some adapted from a recent Twitter chat APA hosted on veteran’s mental health. APA member Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., chair of psychiatry at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and former army psychiatrist provided comments for APA. Dr. Ritchie retired from the Army in 2010, after holding numerous leadership positions within Army Medicine.

  • Oct 15, 2021
Treating Sleep Problems May Help Prevent Depression

Sleep problems and depression are closely interconnected and have a bidirectional relationship. Depression can make sleep problems worse and troubled sleep can worsen depression symptoms. In the October issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, authors David T. Plante, M.D., Ph.D., with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, suggests that there is important “opportunity to prevent depressive episodes using evidence-based treatments for insomnia.” Plante highlights several factors contributing to the potential for broad public health impact. 

  • Sep 30, 2021
AJ Klein, Linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, Talks Mental Health and the NFL

Austin Kayser, a 4th year medical student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health had the opportunity to sit down and talk with NFL linebacker AJ Klein of the Buffalo Bills. They talked about mental health in the NFL, stigma, recent high-profile cases of athletes sitting out for mental health reasons, and the value of therapy, among other topics.

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


About the Expert:

Alan Gelenberg, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona
Distinguished Life Fellow, APA

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Editor's Choice

OCT 18 2021

Depression, depressive symptoms common in long COVID

Depressive symptoms and clinically significant depression were frequent more than 12 weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to a systematic review published in Journal of Psychiatric Research. Frequency of depressive symptoms more than 12 weeks following infection ranged from 11% to 28%, and clinically significant depression rates ranged from 3% to 12%. While most studies evaluated depression at 3 or 4 months after diagnosis or discharge, one evaluated depressive symptoms and depression severity at 6.5 months after hospital discharge, which found a rate of 27% for moderate symptoms and 5% for severe symptoms.

OCT 19 2021

Psychologists have reported an increase in the demand for treatment of anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic
Open Access Government

According to a new survey by the American Psychological Association, 84% of psychologists who treat anxiety disorders have said that they have seen an increase in demand for anxiety treatment since the start of the pandemic. 72% of psychologists who treat depressive disorders have also said they have seen an increase in the demand for treatment of depression. The number of psychologists who reported receiving more referrals this year almost doubled from last year and 68% with a waitlist reported that it had grown longer since the start of the pandemic

OCT 7 2021

Young people’s mental health is finally getting the attention it needs

The COVID-19 pandemic, a UNICEF report and a review of the latest research all highlight the urgent need for better prevention and treatment of youth anxiety and depression.


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