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

Another strategy to cope with life’s dark times

Evidence suggests that attending a religious service at least once per week is associated with a much lower risk of "death from despair" (suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol poisoning), compared with never attending religious services. More »

How to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe and potentially debilitating anxiety disorder that affects people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD often develops in combat veterans, but it can also strike older adults, and especially men. Fortunately, there are many proven ways to help treat and manage PTSD. These include prolonged exposure therapy, social support, medication, exercise, and meditation. (Locked) More »

Sound check on hearing aids

Approximately one in three people ages 65 to 74 has age-related hearing loss. Research continues to show that people with hearing loss who get fitted for hearing aids tend to be more active. Some science has even suggested wearing hearing aids is linked with fewer cognitive issues and a lower risk of depression and dementia. (Locked) More »

Are video calls a loneliness cure?

Doctors say connecting with loved ones and friends via video calls may help people feel less lonely and isolated. Video calls are made using applications ("apps") on a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. These apps enable users to reach people anywhere in the world. As of the spring of 2020, apps commonly used to make video calls included FaceTime, Google Duo, Snapchat, Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp. Video calls can also be used to engage in book clubs, support groups, or exercise instruction. (Locked) More »

Is your habit getting out of control?

Times of stress or trauma can trigger new substance use disorders or lead to relapse in people who are recovering. During these times, the brain seeks to find relief for the most pressing short-term problems, which takes the focus off long-term health. People shouldn’t wait until the problem is entrenched to seek help. Reaching out early brings benefits. (Locked) More »

Should you use an antidepressant to get through a difficult time?

Taking an antidepressant is not something to jump into in order to cope with a difficult time. The medications may take up to six weeks to start working, and it can be tricky to get the dose just right. In addition, antidepressants may have side effects such as nausea, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, or sleep problems. And it can be very difficult to wean off antidepressants. For all of those reasons, antidepressants are typically not prescribed unless someone has a moderate-to-severe case of depression. (Locked) More »

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 »