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

3 health strategies to help you get through the holidays

Mapping out strategies before the holidays helps to avoid health risks such as loneliness and depression, overeating, weight gain, falls in icy weather, foodborne illness, and heart problems brought on by eating and drinking too much. Strategies to combat some of these problems include socializing; volunteering at a nonprofit organization, doing errands for a neighbor, or offering a ride to a person who no longer drives; having a light snack before parties; wearing rubber-soled shoes in icy weather; staying away from food that’s been left out for more than two hours; and limiting alcohol and sodium intake. More »

Is your medication making you depressed?

Certain medications can cause depression as a side effect. Common culprits include benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, statins, and beta blockers. The symptoms of drug-induced depression are the same as typical depression symptoms, such as mood swings and trouble concentrating. People who start a new medication should be proactive about tracking symptoms that develop. Keeping a journal, and noting the day, time, and type of new symptoms, will help, People who suspect their medication is making them depressed should talk to their physicians. (Locked) More »

Calm your anxious heart

Anxiety disorders alter the stress response, affecting the same brain systems that influence cardiovascular functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. People who have ongoing anxiety problems suffer higher rates of heart attack and other cardiac events. Managing anxiety, depression, and stress can improve a person’s sense of well-being and lower the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. More »

How a sleep shortfall can stress your heart

Chronic sleep deprivation strains the cardiovascular system, which may raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The most common cause, insomnia (trouble falling and staying asleep) often stems from stress, depression, or anxiety. Sleep apnea, which causes loud snoring and frequent breathing lapses during sleep, is more prevalent in people at risk for heart disease. (Locked) More »