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

4 Fast mood boosters

Many activities can help chase away the blues. Examples include exercising, meditating, spending time with others, taking up a hobby, and volunteering. (Locked) More »

Drug-free options to fight depression

Treatment for depression isn’t limited to drugs. There is good evidence that nondrug treatments and lifestyle changes can ease the symptoms of depression. Exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help with mild to moderate depression. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is considered a last-resort alternative for people with moderate to severe depression that hasn’t responded to treatment. While CBT is usually covered by insurance, rTMS is not always covered. A primary care physician can recommend a CBT therapist. A psychiatrist can recommend an rTMS practitioner. (Locked) More »

What are the real risks of antidepressants?

Reports of risky side effects may have dampened enthusiasm for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are among the world's most widely prescribed medications. A review of concerns and benefits associated with SSRIs. More »

Working off depression

A roundup of studies exploring the beneficial effects of exercise on depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Is it a case of the chicken and the egg? More »

Health tips for former smokers

Quitting smoking is a huge step forward for improving health and extending life. The well-documented health risks associated with smoking include heart attack, stroke, lung and other cancers, insulin resistance, and tooth loss. However, the body begins to repair the damage from smoking within minutes after the last cigarette is done. To fully reap the benefits, it’s important to take steps to remain smoke-free and to pay attention to health habits, screenings, and vaccinations. (Locked) More »

Men: Don't ignore signs of depression

The most typical signs of depression are persistent sadness and disinterest, but the illness can look different in men. Men sometimes mask their depression in anger or irritability. Other symptoms of masked depression are bodily aches and pains, alcohol abuse, and reckless or escapist behaviors, like gambling. Mild depression is relieved by medication, talk therapy, or both. For more severe depression, medication is often the best option. After symptoms of depression begin to resolve, it’s important to continue taking medications to prevent relapse. (Locked) More »

Treat depression, help the heart

Heart disease triples a person’s risk of depression, and people who already suffer from depression are at greatly increased risk of heart disease. Untreated depression makes it more likely that a person will die of heart disease, yet it’s often overlooked. When they develop heart disease, some people are particularly likely to suffer depression: those with a previous history of depression, younger people, and women. Some evidence also suggests that people who have received ICD shocks are at higher risk of depression. There are a number of good treatments for depression, and having heart disease does not make treatment more difficult. Effective treatments include antidepressants, psychotherapy, exercise, and cardiac rehabilitation. More »

Depression: Is it just a slump or something more?

It’s normal to feel sad sometimes, but symptoms of depression should not be ignored, especially if you suspect you are depressed. Classic depression symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, apathy, sadness, and despair; difficulty concentrating, making decisions, sleeping, or eating; thoughts of suicide; and a loss of interest in activities. These may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as aches and pains, fatigue, and changes in sleep or appetite. Waiting to see if symptoms pass can make depression worse. (Locked) More »