Depression

Sadness touches our lives at different times, but usually comes and goes. Depression, in contrast, often has enormous depth and staying power. It is more than a passing bout of "the blues." Depression can leave you feeling continuously burdened and can squash the joy you once got out of pleasurable activities.

When depression strikes, doctors usually probe what's going on in the mind and brain first. But it's also important to check what's going on in the body, since some medical problems are linked to mood disturbances. In fact, physical illnesses and medication side effects are behind up to 15% of all depression cases.

Depression isn't a one-size-fits-all illness. Instead, it can take many forms. Everyone's experience and treatment for depression is different. Effective treatments include talk therapy, medications, and exercise. Even bright light is used to treat a winter-onset depression known as seasonal affective disorder. Treatment can improve mood, strengthen connections with loved ones, and restore satisfaction in interests and hobbies.

New discoveries are helping improve our understanding of the biology of depression. These advances could pave the way for even more effective treatment with new drugs and devices. Better understanding of the genetics of depression could also usher in an era of personalized treatment.

Depression Articles

How to be a mentor

Older adults who serve as a mentor to a child or young adult can not only help someone else, but also improve many aspects of their own health, such as self-esteem, cognitive function, and quality of life, and reduce their risk of loneliness and depression. (Locked) More »

Menopause and mental health

Changes in female hormone levels can bring about mood changes or mild mood disorders during perimenopause and the transition into menopause. However, this is also a time when life circumstances or physical changes can play a role in mood shifts. Women should be aware that this may occur and be certain to bring bothersome mood changes to the attention of their doctors. More »

Can a dietary supplement help ease your depression?

Some supplements may ease depression symptoms. Supplements that may help include fish oil, methylfolate, N-acetylcysteine, St. John’s wort, and vitamin D. It’s not generally considered dangerous to take certain over-the-counter supplements, but there are some risks. For example, St. John’s wort has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of many drugs, and omega-3 supplements may increase bleeding risk in people taking blood thinners. It’s best to talk to a doctor before starting a supplement regimen. More »

Shining a light on winter depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the late fall and early winter, with lack of natural light cited as the main contributor. Adopting light therapy, which involves exposure from a light box for about 30 minutes a day, can help restore the brain chemical imbalances that contribute to SAD. More »

Know the facts about CBD products

Cannabidiol (CBD), extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, has been promoted as the latest miracle cure for everything from aches and pains to anxiety and sleep disorders. Yet, the science has not confirmed its many health claims, and CBD products currently are not regulated by the FDA. Until more is known, experts suggest avoiding these over-the-counter and online products. (Locked) More »

An underused option for severe depression

Nonsurgical brain stimulation techniques use electrical current or magnets to stimulate the brain areas affected by depression. It’s thought that the changes in brain activity the treatments prompt help relieve symptoms of depression. A new study found that these treatments can be an effective alternative or additional therapy for people with medication-resistant severe depression. More »

Meditation: There's an app for that

A booming number of meditation apps reflect growing interest in the technique, which research shows can help with a number of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. But app quality may vary, so a dose of caution is warranted. People new to meditation may want to combine an app with a class to learn how to meditate effectively. (Locked) More »

More evidence that exercise can boost mood

Researchers found that regular exercise seems to prevent depression. The study used genetic data to answer the question of whether a lack of movement causes depression or if depression causes people to move less. Moving more, even when just performing ordinary daily activities, such as walking or gardening, can reduce the risk of depression. More »

The mental side of recovery

A major health issue, like surgery, an injury, or even a heart attack is hard enough to deal with without having to also confront the stress, anxiety, and even depression that often comes with it. Yet taking care of one’s mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to recovery. Relying more on social support, focusing on being more active, and using past successful strategies can help. (Locked) More »