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

Depression and heart disease: A double-edged sword?

Depression and cardiovascular disease are common conditions that often occur together. People with depression can find it hard to muster the energy to stick to healthy habits, including choosing and preparing healthy foods and taking prescribed medications on schedule. Three lifestyle changes can improve both illnesses: doing regular exercise, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, and practicing mindfulness meditation. Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help ease depression in people with cardiovascular disease. So can cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to help people recognize and change ingrained, negative thoughts or behaviors. (Locked) More »

Is it dementia or something else?

People often fear that memory lapses, such as forgetting your keys or people’s names, are related to dementia. But there are also many more benign reasons for forgetfulness. A lack of sleep, certain medications, or even stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to memory problems. People experiencing memory lapses should see their doctor to investigate potential causes. (Locked) More »

Don’t ignore depression

Depression may be more common as people age, but new data suggest that the biggest threat to older adults’ mental health is their failure to recognize its symptoms and seriousness. Many chalk up depression as a normal part of aging, but addressing it as a real and treatable disease can help older adults seek the help they need and not needlessly suffer. More »

The highs and lows of medical cannabis

In recent years, more states have legalized medical cannabis, and more people have turned to it for help, especially older adults. There are different ways to take it, from smoking to eating to applying oil or cream. While the science behind its effectiveness continues to grow, people should consult their doctor and familiarize themselves with their state’s law to determine if medical cannabis is something they should explore. (Locked) More »

Understanding intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence, which includes physical or sexual violence, psychological harm, or stalking by a current or former partner, affects as many as one in three women. Help is available, even during the pandemic. Leaving an abusive situation can be challenging, but having a plan can help. Women should also be aware that the abuse isn’t their fault and they are not alone. As many as one in three women experiences intimate partner violence. (Locked) More »

Blood pressure medications may affect your mood

Contrary to what doctors have long assumed, blood pressure drugs may not raise the risk of depression. Some have even been linked to a lower risk of depression, including enalapril (Vasotec), ramipril (Altace), verapamil (Verelan), verapamil combination drugs, propranolol (Inderal), atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), and carvedilol (Coreg). But because people have very diverse reactions to medications, large-scale trends of side effects don’t necessarily apply to an individual’s experience. People who notice mood changes or other side effects after starting a new medication should tell their physicians. More »

COVID pandemic got you down?

Almost everyone goes through rough mental patches of feeling down, sad, and lethargic. If these feelings become more frequent and linger longer, that could signal a form of depression called persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia. An evaluation from a mental health expert like a psychiatrist or counselor can confirm the diagnosis and offer appropriate treatment like psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two. (Locked) More »

Unlocking the mystery of chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Chronic pelvic pain syndrome—also known as chronic prostatitis—is one of the most puzzling conditions for older men. Because the cause is unknown and there is no defined strategy for treatment, doctors often take a trial-and-error approach to managing the common symptoms like pain, sexual dysfunction, and urination problems. These include different types of medication, physiotherapy, stress management, exercise, and diet modification. (Locked) More »