Mental Help Net
Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Basic Information

Depression Resources

Everyone has days where they feel blah, down, or sad. Typically, these feelings disappear after a day or two, particularly if circumstances change for the better. People experiencing the temporary "blues" don't feel a sense of crushing hopelessness or helplessness, and are able, for the most part, to continue to engage in regular activities. For people dealing with depressive disorders, negative feelings linger, intensify, and often become crippling. With normal sadness, people are still able to experience pleasure when positive events happen. With depressive disorders, the hopelessness and failure stay even when good things are happening. Other, more intense sorts of symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts and hallucinations (e.g., hearing voices), are also often present. These symptoms suggest that serious varieties of depression may be present, including the subject of this center: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or (more informally), Major Depression.


Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is depression?

  • Major Depressive Disorder is a common yet serious medical condition that affects both the mind and body.
  • It creates physical (body), psychological (mind), and social symptoms.
  • Informally, we often use the term "depression" to describe general sadness. The term Major Depressive Disorder is defined by a formal set of medical criteria which describe symptoms that must be present before the label may be appropriately used.
  • According to the World Health Organization, depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 15% of people affected.
  • Depressive disorders are a leading cause of absenteeism and lost productivity.
  • We also know that people who are depressed cannot simply will themselves to snap out of it. Getting better often requires appropriate treatment.

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What are the symptoms of depression?

  • Symptoms can vary a great deal from one person to the next. Typical symptoms include:
    • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
    • Being tired and have no energy
    • A dramatic change in appetite resulting in weight loss or gain
    • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
    • Inability to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions
    • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
    • Inactivity and withdrawal from typical pleasurable activities
    • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
    • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Symptoms can also change over time, such as with someone who is initially withdrawn and sad becoming very frustrated and irritable as a result of decreased sleep and the inability to accomplish simple tasks or make decisions.
  • When depression is severe, people may even experience symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.

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What are the causes of depression?

  • The biopsychosocial model says that biological, psychological and social factors are all interlinked causes of depression.
  • Depression has been linked to problems or imbalances in the brain with regard to the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • A person who has a parent or sibling with depression is almost three times more likely to develop Major Depression than someone with no history of depression in their parents or siblings, which suggests that genetics play a role in the causes of depression.
  • Long-term stress that lasts for a year or more can affect the body's immune system and lead to an increased risk of developing physical illnesses and an increased likelihood of becoming depressed.
  • Psychological factors influencing depression include negative patterns of thinking, low coping skills, judgment problems, and difficulty in understanding and expressing emotions.
  • Personality factors, history and early experiences; and relationships with others are seen as important factors in causing depression.
  • People can also become depressed as a result of social factors such as: experiencing traumatic situations (a family death, divorce, job loss, abusive relationship, etc.), lack of social support/relationships, or harassment (bullying).

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When should I seek help for depression?

  • If your depressed mood lasts for more than two weeks, or is seriously interfering with your ability to function at work, with your family, and in your social life, you should consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.
  • If you find yourself thinking seriously about suicide, you should make an appointment with a mental health doctor (a psychiatrist, or psychologist) as soon as you can.
  • If you are feeling like you will commit suicide within hours or days unless you receive some relief, then skip making an appointment with a doctor and go immediately to your local hospital emergency room and tell them there that you are feeling suicidal.

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How is depression diagnosed?

  • The diagnosis process often starts with a visit to a primary care doctor who may ask simple questions about your feelings and experiences.
  • A physical examination, medical history and lab tests will be done to determine if your depression is related to a physical condition.
  • If a physical condition is ruled out, then you should see a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who will talk with you to learn more about your current problems and symptoms, as well as to obtain a complete history of previous symptoms, a family history, a history of significant stressful life events, and information concerning your lifestyle, social support, alcohol or drug use, and any suicidal thoughts or tendencies you may be experiencing.
  • In order to compare your symptoms to those of other people in order to determine the severity of your symptoms, you may be asked to complete one or more standardized questionnaire forms.

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How is depression treated?

  • It is important to know that depression is a HIGHLY treatable condition.
  • There is no single therapy that works equally well for every depressed person.
  • Depression is most often treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
  • Antidepressants help with some of the brain chemistry causes of depression. Typically this will include either a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil, or a SNRI (serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), such as Wellbutrin or Effexor.
  • Psychotherapy helps people understand and then change the behavioral, cognitive and social patterns that cause or contribute to the depressed mood.
  • More severe cases of depression may require different and more frequent therapy than milder cases.
  • People with severe depression who may be engaging in self-destructive behavior, such as attempting suicide, refusing to eat, refusing to get out of bed, or may be showing signs of psychotic behavior, such as hallucinations and delusions, may require inpatient hospitalization.
  • People sometimes turn to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) techniques such as traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, and Herbal Therapy for relief from their symptoms. Very few of these approaches have been tested in clinical trials for depression, so there is often little scientific evidence to support these practices.
  • One of the best studied and most famous CAM remedies for depression is St. John's Wort, which is an herbal preparation of a plant extract. Research does support this as a stand-alone alternative treatment for depression and in parts of Europe this herb is often the preferred remedy for treating depression.
  • If you are interested in CAM approaches, the best plan is to consult with a qualified CAM practitioner who can help determine which combination of treatments, and in what dosages, would be most beneficial for you.

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Are there self-help methods for depression?

  • Self-help approaches to treating depression are best thought of as additions to professional treatments.
  • People should not delay treating depression professionally, or attempt to treat it solely on their own.
  • The more that you take an active role in helping yourself recover, the better your chances of recovery are likely to be.
  • It is important to accept your diagnosis and to take the medications and other therapies that have been prescribed for you regularly.
  • Accept invitations to social events and maintain your typical social schedule as best you can even if you are not enjoying it as much as you used to.
  • One way to reduce the amount of stress you experience is to prioritize the demands you are facing and then to do only the most pressing tasks.
  • Talk about what is bothering you with a therapist or with friends or family members. If you don't feel comfortable talking, then keep a journal and vent through writing.
  • Regular physical exercise is thought to have an antidepressant effect.
  • One way to regain a sense of control is to educate yourself about your illness.
  • Choosing to make positive improvements in your sleep, eating, drug and alcohol use, exercise, social and spiritual habits can end up helping you improve your mood.

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Self Therapy: An Interview with Jay Earley, PhD
Reflections On A Season
Living a POSITIVE LIFE with Bipolar (Manic) Depression
"So What's the Point?" Help with Finding the Answers...
What You Need to Know About the Family in Your Mind
A Lesson from Psalm 126
Self Compassion
Perceptions of Life Today
The Anti-Depressant Checklist
How to Break Free from Life's Irritations
Change Your Mind, Your Brain and Your Life!
3 Steps to Turn Negative Self Talk into Emotional Healing
The Mind Traps that Hold Us Back
New Study: 5 Million Californians Need Mental Help
5 Ways to Renew Your Life Today
You May be Trapped in Your Own Mind
Your Subconscious Mind May be Making Critical Errors in Judgment
Rewiring Your Brain for the Digital Age: A Good Thing?
The Shame of Imperfection: A Way Out
Is it Depression or Bipolar Disorder?
What is Docosahexaenoic acid and Why You Need to Know
Is the Storm Outside or In Your Mind?
Score Another One for Cognitive Therapy
Gauging the Effectiveness of One Component of Alcoholics Anonymous
New Research: 5 Minutes Outside Can Boost Your Self-Esteem and Mood
Psychedelics Good for Your Mental Health?
Four Steps to Bring On Happiness
What Everyone Should Know about the Dangers of Their Minds
Who Killed Happiness and How to Get it Back!
Resiliency: Rewiring the Brain from Self Harm to Kindness
Neuroplasticity: The Good, Bad and How it Affects You
Using Your Brain to Work with Difficult Emotions
How to Find the Wisdom Inside to Mend Your Life
The Danger of Positive Thinking
How Well Do You Know the Committee in Your Mind?
More Mindfulness Research for Anxiety and Depression: Here's the Rub
Alcoholic's Anonymous, Outcomes and New Research on Alcoholism
Thoughts are Not Facts: A Story Everyone Should Know
The Stigma of "Disorder": Wisdom from Therese Borchard
Walk To Washington: Raising Awareness about Major Depression
Research Suggests Mindfulness Reduces Bipolar Relapse
Milder Depressions Don't Appear to Benefit From Antidepressant Treatment
Elisha Goldstein's Top 10 Blog Posts for 2009
Staying Sober: Dealing With Temptations
3 Steps to Mindfully Work with ADHD and Procrastination
How Your Mind Sabotages Your Best Intentions: 3 Steps to Breaking Free
Depression? Stress? How Sweet they Are? A Dissertation on Dark Chocolate
Keeping You Sane: Do You Need a Day Out?
Exploring the Upside of ADHD
How to Gain Control of Your Mind, Instead of Your Mind Controlling You
What You Need to Know about H1N1 and Depression
Mindfulness and ADHD: A Tip from Dr. Lidia Zylowska
Freedom from Your Anxious Mind
ADHD - Breaking the Cycle of Shame
Feeling Good, It's Not Just In the Brain
Are You Wired to Worry?
Children, ADHD and Stimulant Medication
5 Steps to Emotional Freedom: Placebo or Panacea?
New Research: Mindfulness-Based Program as Effective as Antidepressant Medication
Brain Neuroplasticity and Treatment Resistant Depression
Feeling Stuck? Two Things You Need to Know to Make a Change
One Strategy You Need to Know for Bipolar Disorder
Psychiatric Meds: The Personal Debate Over Use
Are You at Risk for Depression? Here's One Way to Find Out
Bipolar Mood Swings? 4 Steps to Nip Them in the Bud
Elisha Goldstein's Top 10 Mental Help Blog Posts
3 Steps Out of Helplessness
Post Partum Depression and The Importance of Sleep
"The Big Emptiness": Hoarding, OCD, Depression and the Quest for Meaning
Feeling Depressed? 3 Steps to Happiness
Does Psychotherapy Help Everyone?
Of Parking Lots, Stress, Life and Psychotherapy
Feeling Stuck with Anxiety or Depression? Try this Today!
Catastrophizing Controlling Your Life: 3 Steps to Break Free
Teenagers and Depression: Their Families and Psychotherapy
Meaning in Life: What Golf Balls Can Teach Us
Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World
Wake Up to What Makes You Happy!
Want Mental Health? Lessons from a King
Kristie Alley and the Problem of Obesity and Dieting
Handling Difficult Emotions: The Path Less Traveled
Can Blogs Really Help?
Making Friends, A Matter of Where You Live?
3 Ways to Stay Up in a Depressed Work Environment
One Strategy to be More Successful Day to Day
Life Feel Overwhelming? Lessons From a Dishwasher
Work Place Climate, Depression and Job Searching
Vegetarian Diets May Harbor Eating Disordered Youngsters:
This is it! Letting Go of Daily Struggle
Cognitive Distortions, also known as
To Do: 3 Steps to Healing When You're Feeling Blue
Depression: How We Get Stuck and What Can Help
Young Yet Sad: The Social Phobic
An Interview with Thomas Joiner, Ph.D. on Why People Commit Suicide
Alcohol as the Cause of Depression?
Compassion: The Missing Link
Break Free from the Mental Recession or Depression by Doing Less
Depression and Marriage
Dementia and Neuroplasticity: What Might Help Today
How this economic recession can pull you into an emotional recession without you even knowing it. 5 key steps that can help
The Importance of Recognizing Childhood Successes at School
Your morning coffee or tea linked to happiness?
Child Abuse and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Grieving: 7 tips to get you through the holidays
Feeling Depressed? Here's 1 practice that could begin to turn it around
Turn your sleep problems into a dream of the past! 5 tips from a Psychologist and mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher
Is Happiness Contagious? Here is one way you can catch it
Suicide: Does a Person Have the Right to Take His Own Life?
An ancient way that has been called an "antidote" to fear
Suspended From College For Expressing Suicidal Ideation (a reaction to an NPR radio story)
I dare you: Using gratitude to support your mental health
Is the economy ruining your holiday season? 5 steps to a better holiday
How you can be triggered into depression…without even knowing it
How to take advantage of the holidays and stave off stress, anxiety, and depression
A few clues that you’re entering into Seasonal Affective Disorder and what you can do about it
A Natural Approach to Treating Depression Web Series
Breaking down Barack Obama’s Psychology of Hope and how it may help you in trying times…
Depression and Spirituality
Suicide Among White Middle Class Increases
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation device for treatment-resistant Major Depression just approved by the FDA
National Depression Screening Day is just around the corner (October 10th!)
Press "D" for Depression Therapy
Few People Who Are Depressed Receive Mental Health Services
"Guns and Suicide" article and Comments: What about the anger?
An Interview with James Gordon, MD on Mind-Body Medicine and his book 'Unstuck'
Regulating Brain Chemicals and Mental Illnesses with WINCS and DBS
Pleasure...Depression’s Kryptonite?
World Suicide Prevention Day... September 10, 2008
Mood Changes Linked To Seasonal Fluctuations in Serotonin
An Interview with Ronald Dworkin, MD, Ph.D. on Artificial Happiness (using antidepressants to mask ordinary unhappiness)
Is Chronic Pain and Depression destroying your life?
In Pursuit of Happiness, Part 3
Three things you can do immediately when you find yourself getting depressed
Why Is Happiness So Difficult to Achieve? Part 1
The Influence of Culture on the Expression of Depression
Low Self Esteem: Eating or Spending to Escape
Depression and Diabetes: A Deadly Combination
Mood Change Doesn't Happen Quickly
Life: Are We Listening and Living?
New Hope for People with Major Depression
Depression: A New Frontier in It's Treatment
Economic and Mental Depression
Whisk Those Blues Away
The Relationship Between Exercise and Mood
Retail Therapy, Sadness and Spending: The Study Behind the Story
I'm So Bored!
Psychotherapy: A More than Oncer Per Week Commitment
Feeling down during the winter? You may have SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
Diabetes, Depression and Life
Women and Depression
Mental Health, Memory and Social Interaction
Problems Connected with Anti depressant medications
Pain and Depression
Fibromyalgia, It is not just in your head
A Combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Antidepressant Medication Works Best for Depressed Adolescents
Dogs, Depression and Other Health Issues: Is there something to be gained from Illness?
Anti depressants and young people: an issue revisited
Anniversary Reactions
But, It Still Hurts: Pain-Depression-Pain
Massive update for our Depression topic center
Correlation: Siblings and Depression?
Interpersonal Therapy May Prevent Future Depressive Episodes
The Negative Effects of Pain on Depression
Depression and Heart Disease
Our Bipolar Topic Center has been Updated
PODCAST: Dying To Live - Interview with a heart transplant patient
National Depression Screening Day is Tomorrow!
Behavioral Therapy May Be Better Than Cognitive Therapy for Severe Depression
Perfectionism probably creates a Vulnerability for Depression
Feeling Depressed: Influenced by the Attitudes and Opinions of Others?
Botox fights Depression?
How Prozac gets its groove on.
Chronic cortisol exposure causes mood disorders
Heart Attacks and Young Women == Depression
SSRI antidepressants raise risk of premature birth
Adult ADHD: Difficult to Diagnose and Often Misunderstood
NYTimes has story on Deep Brain Stim for Depression
Brain Scan Predicts Who Will Benefit From Cognitive Therapy
The Midlife Crisis: A Case of Extreme Stress
Treating Mother's Depression Helps Protect Their Children
Maintanence medications ward off senior depression relapse
Depression predicts mental decline in seniors
Depression - Let's Talk
The Age of Depression
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy for Depression
Beating the Holiday Blues
How to get stuff done when you are depressed
Tell Me About Depression
5 Signs Your Teenager is Battling Depression
Depression Raises Female Heart Risk
Let’s talk about depression - focus on women with young babies
Teen Depression Screening
Let’s talk about depression – focus on adolescents and young adults
Let’s talk about depression – focus on older people
Depression: More Than Just the Blues
How to Know if You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder
Kids and Depression
Know the Differences Between Adult and Teen Depression
Postpartum Depression
Groundbreaking Research Into Postpartum Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder: One Woman's Story
Postpartum Depression
The Link Between Stress and Depression
Post Holiday Blues
Adolescent Depression
Behavioral Activation: Treatment of Adolescent Depression
Individualized Depression Treatment
Optimizing Lithium Treatment
Postpartum Depression
Depression and its Treatment
Treating Depression in Youth
The Mindful Way Through Depression
Depression, the Secret We Share
The bridge between suicide and life
Depressive and Bipolar Disorders
Adolescent Depression and Anxiety
#StrongerThanStigma - Wayne Brady: Why I Waited to Talk About My Depression
Down in the Dumps or Depressed?
What is Depression?
What Doctors Miss When Treating Women With Depression
It’s Bipolar Disorder Not Depression
What About Alternative Depression Treatments?
Self Help and Therapy for Depression
Dealing with the Stigma of Depression
What is Treatment Resistant Depression?
Do I Have Depression? Common Symptoms of Depression
Postpartum Depression: What You Need to Know
Depression and Your Family Doc
New Treatments for Depression
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression
Postpartum Depression - Not Just the Baby Blues
"Baby Blues" -- or Postpartum Depression?
Study Finds Link Between Crohn’s Disease and Depression
Dealing with Depression
Antidepressants and Sexual Dysfunction
Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression Video
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression
What is Depression?
Book Reviews
A Heart of Stone
A Mood Apart
A Philosophical Disease
Active Treatment of Depression
Adolescent Depression
Against Depression
American Melancholy
An Unquiet Mind
Beating the Blues
Before Prozac
Beyond Blue
Blaming the Brain
Calm Energy
Conquering Postpartum Depression
Conquering the Beast Within
Cry Depression, Celebrate Recovery
Depression 101
Depression Doesn't Always Have to Be Depressing
Depression Fallout
Depression in Context
Depression Is a Choice
Depression, the Mood Disease
Depression-Free for Life
Doctors of Deception
Down Came the Rain
Dysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic Depressions
Emotional Claustrophobia
Essential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Everything Is Fine
Experiences of Depression
Handbook of Depression
Handbook of Depression
History of Suicide
How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me
In Pursuit of Happiness
Journeys with the Black Dog
Killing the Black Dog
LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1
LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2
Lifting Depression
Lincoln's Melancholy
Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married
Malignant Sadness
Manufacturing Depression
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression
Mood Genes
My Depression
Natural Healing for Depression
New Hope for People with Depression
On Depression
On the Edge of Darkness
Ordinarily Well
Out of the Blue
Outsmarting Depression
Overcoming Depression
Potatoes Not Prozac
Prozac and the New Antidepressants
Prozac Backlash
Prozac Diary
Prozac Nation
Puppy Chow Is Better Than Prozac
Quiet Your Mind & Get to Sleep
Raising a Moody Child
Reasons to Stay Alive
Songs from the Black Chair
Speaking of Sadness
Spontaneous Happiness
Student Depression
Subordination and Defeat
Sunbathing in the Rain
Swing Low
Talking Back to Prozac
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders
The Anatomy of Melancholy
The Anti-Depressant Fact Book
The Antidepressant Era
The Beast
The Bell Jar
The Breakthrough Depression Solution
The Corrections
The Cruelty of Depression
The Depressed Child
The Depression Cure
The Devil Within
The Emotional Revolution
The Family Silver
The Feeling Good Handbook
The Mood Cure
The Nature of Melancholy
The Noonday Demon
The Postpartum Effect
The Secret Strength of Depression
The Van Gogh Blues
The Van Gogh Blues
This Close to Happy
Understanding Depression
Undoing Depression
Unholy Ghost
Viniyoga Therapy for Depression
What the Birds See
When a Parent is Depressed
When Nothing Matters Anymore
When Words Are Not Enough
Why Are You So Sad?
Writing Through the Darkness
Basic Information
Introduction and Types of Depressive DisordersRelated Disorders / ConditionsHistorical and Current UnderstandingsBiology, Psychology and SociologyTreatment - Medication and PsychotherapyAlternative Medicine and Self-Help ResourcesSpecial IssuesReferences
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