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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

  • Sep 18, 2020
Athletes and Isolation During the Continued COVID-19 Pandemic

In this time of COVID-19, no one wants sports back than the athletes themselves. In a recent study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin, 68% of the 3,243 high school student-athletes surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, an uptick of about 37% from past, pre-pandemic studies. Physical activity levels were down by about 50% and quality of life scores were lower. Simply put, athletes are feeling the cancellation of competition events and closure of training facilities.

  • Sep 09, 2020
Building Knowledge and Understanding to Help Prevent Suicide

Each year more than 45,000 lives are lost to suicide in the U.S. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults 35 to 54 years old and the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults aged 10 to 34 years. (1) But there is hope. New research is helping us understand who is at greatest risk—and this understanding will help psychiatrists and the mental health field at large save lives. 

  • Aug 26, 2020
College Students Benefit from Wellness Training

 Demand for mental health services at college counseling centers has been on the rise in recent years. Stress, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues among students seeking help. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a greater mental health impact on young adults than other age groups. A new study examines the potential of a proactive, preventative approach to building resilience and promoting psychological thriving in students before they experience mental health symptoms.

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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

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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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JUNE 30 2020

COVID-19 triggers mental health concerns in workplace: Ask HR
USA Today

On the one hand, getting back into a routine can be comforting. But on the other, this “old” routine for many employees is very different than the normal they knew before COVID-19.  Nearly 1 in 4 employees report feeling down, depressed, or hopeless often, and 41% feel burnt out, drained, or exhausted from their work. COVID-19 is turning employers’ attention to mental health. As companies create return-to-work policies and procedures, many are now including information and resources to help meet employees’ mental health needs.

JUNE 29 2020

'Not alone': Mental health experts help patients cope after COVID-19
Newsday

Mental health experts are exploring the use of virtual support groups and other resources to help recovering COVID-19 patients who are grappling with anxiety and depression as a result of their illness. Many of those patients are feeling stressed and isolated as they deal with lingering physical effects of the disease, such as fatigue and shortness of breath.

JUNE 24 2020

AI predicts effective depression treatment based on brainwave patterns
Stanford Medicine Scope

Current methods used to diagnose and treat depression are imprecise at best, relying largely on subjective answers to survey questions.  "Currently treatments are a trial and error process," Williams said. Williams and her collaborators set out to define a more effective model, which they hope can be used in clinics soon. In a recent study, they deployed an algorithm to interpret brainwave patterns unique to individuals with depression, with the goal of better pinpointing which symptoms change with treatment.

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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