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 two-way street

Depression is about twice as likely to occur in people with heart disease compared with the general population. Both conditions have been linked to inflammation, which may damage the heart and blood vessels. And people with depression face a heightened risk of heart disease, possibly because they have a hard time getting regular exercise and eating healthy foods. Antidepressant medications (which a primary care provider can prescribe) combined with talk therapy with a mental health professional can help.  (Locked) More »

4 things you can do to alleviate caregiver stress

Taking care of a loved one can take a physical and psychological toll. Getting help with caregiving and finding emotional support are crucial for caregivers. Government programs and nonprofit organizations offer helpful resources. More »

Depression: Not just a run-of-the-mill bad day

Feeling blue is normal. Bouts of sadness, disinterest, or lack of motivation happen to everyone. But when those feelings persist for more than two weeks, it's more than just a run-of-the-mill bad day. It's depression. In 2014, almost 7% of American adults reported experiencing an episode of depression in the year before the survey. That means 15.7 million adults in this country felt hopeless, discouraged, irritable, and unhappy, and these feelings affected all aspects of their lives. More »

5 ways to fight loneliness and isolation

Loneliness and isolation are associated with developing a number of health conditions, such as coronary artery disease and stroke. Avoiding loneliness and isolation takes planning and effort. Strategies include reaching out to family and friends, even if it’s just a phone call or video call; signing up for rides through senior centers; joining a club or spiritual community, such as a church or synagogue; getting a pet; and signing up for visits from volunteers at senior centers. (Locked) More »

More than a happiness boost: How mood medications help when you’re depressed

Antidepressants help treat more than just the emotional and psychological issues of depression. The medications can also improve other aspects of health, since depression often has physical complications such as appetite loss, insomnia, and fatigue. There are four classes of antidepressants: SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. There are also “atypical” antidepressants that have unique properties. Side effects vary depending on the drug. But all antidepressants take time to work, from two weeks to a month.  (Locked) More »

Do you need a depression screening?

The 2016 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for depression screenings suggest that older adults be screened for depression when there are systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up.  More »

The lowdown on low-grade depression

Dysthymia, or low-grade depression, is the most common type of depression, yet it often goes undiagnosed and thus untreated. Knowing the warning signs and how the condition affects life and health can motivate people to seek appropriate treatment.  (Locked) More »