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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

  • Mar 19, 2018
New Guidelines: All Teens Should be Screened for Depression

he American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has established new guidelines to help primary care clinicians to identify and treat adolescents with depression. The guidelines call for screening all teens and young adults age 12 to 21 for depression using a formal self-report screening tool.

  • Mar 05, 2018
The Best Foods to Support Mental Health May Depend on Your Age

The foods we eat can affect our mental well-being, but the foods we need to help maintain and improve mental health may be different for young adults than for older adults, according to a new study from State University of New York at Binghamton.

  • Feb 14, 2018
Childhood Trauma and Resilience: Participating in Sports Can Help

People who have experienced trauma or abuse in childhood are at much higher risk of mental health problems throughout their lives. However, there are actions that individuals and communities can take to build resilience and help ward off mental health problems later.

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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


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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Editor's Choice

JAN 11, 2018

How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

The Good Men Project

Part of me feels as though I failed my son. I missed helping him because I was lost within my own depression. When you are a parent who lives with a mental illness, it's a trap to blame yourself if your child struggles with a mental illness or addiction. By opening up about my depression, I have encouraged my son to seek help when he needs it. As a father perhaps that is one of the greatest gifts I can offer.

JAN 10, 2018

Hormone replacement therapy may prevent depression in menopause 

New Scientist

IA study of 172 women without depression and aged between 45 and 60 has found that a year of HRT treatment can help stop symptoms of depression emerging in women who are entering the menopause or who are in the early stages of post-menopause. 

JAN 9, 2018

Five Mistakes People With Depression Make

Psychology Today (blog)

Difficulty sleeping is one of the most horrible symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, it's often the last symptom to resolve when people's mood starts to improve. Therefore, even though it's hard, it is important that you start other strategies even though you're feeling tired and grumpy. For example, exercise.


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