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
In recent years, the potential use of ketamine to treat severe depression has generated a lot of hope and excitement and headlines. Ketamine has long been medically used as an anesthesia and misused as a street drug. It has also shown great promise in treating severe depression, but there are still many questions and potential concerns.
Using “power statements” can help people with serious mental illness clarify and communicate their personal goals for medication and treatment, according to a new study. A power statement is a short, self-advocacy statement prepared by a patient based on a template. The study found that people with serious mental illness typically view medications not only as a way to address symptoms, but as a means to pursue meaningful life goals.
The realistic portray of mental illness in television and movies can be an effective way to reduce stigma around psychiatric issues. But it can be troubling if those portrayals do not show options for treatment.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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
Learn about Seasonal Affective Disorder, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.
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. More
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FEB 17, 2017
At least 50 percent of the population will meet the criteria for mental illness or depression at some point in their lives. It comes in many forms. Dr. Arzubi said in his experience with his patients it is every bit as painful, if not more so, as something physical. "It's different for everybody. For me it's all the things that I normally love doing. I love hiking. I love mountain biking. I love working out. All those things, it basically, my mind tells me that those aren't fun anymore. They're not worth it, that you should just lay down. You should just do nothing cause it's not worth it," said Nesovic, who has depression.
FEB 16, 2017
Several meta-analyses have shown that psychotherapy is effective for reducing depressive symptom severity. However, the impact on quality of life is as yet unknown. A new meta-analysis of 44 randomized clinical trials comparing psychotherapy for depressed adults with a control group concluded that psychotherapy for depression does have a positive impact on the quality of life of patients with depression.
FEB 15, 2017
Depression is associated with sadness, fatigue and a lack of motivation. But people with depression can also have trouble processing information and solving problems. Now scientists studying a rat model for depression are identifying on a molecular level how the condition could affect thinking. The findings could lead to the development of new depression treatments that would address associated cognitive problems.
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute on Mental Health
Physician Review By:
Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.