What Is Depression?

Some 15 million Americans struggle with depression, an illness that comes in many forms—from major depression and seasonal affective disorder, to dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him.

A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depression cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better.

Depression, even in the most severe cases, is highly treatable. As with many illnesses, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.

Recent Posts on Depression

Breaking Up with One’s Meds

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on July 31, 2015 in Side Effects
A chronicle of withdrawal syndrome from psychiatric meds.

Getting Lost in the Noise

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on July 31, 2015 in PreFrontal Nudity
When trying to accomplish something great, if you check in too often with your progress, then you can be getting in your own way. I had to learn this the hard way, but, fortunately, there is a way out.

Withdrawal and Inactivity Feed Depression

If you're depressed, it's natural to feel like withdrawing from others and it can be hard to motivate yourself to do anything. Unfortunately, giving into these behaviors is likely to make your mood worse, not better. Here are some small tips on how to get back on course to mental health and happiness.

Why Do People Like Sad Songs?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on July 31, 2015 in Hot Thought
The emotional impact of music does not come from imparting particular emotions, but rather from being emotionally engaging in general. So it does not matter whether a song is happy or sad, only whether it has an emotional impact on the listeners.

Depression and Suicide in Black Youth

Depression is a serious mental health issue that significantly impacts the lives of many youth. Among Black youth 3.2% report suicidal thoughts and 1.4% report attempting suicide. Given the serious risk, it is important to learn early warning signs.

How I Got Sober

By Anna David on July 30, 2015 in After Party Chat
I figured if quitting drugs and embracing clean living was as bad as I thought it would be, then I could re-think the suicide option.

6 Affirmations for Postpartum Self-Esteem

It’s just that your pretense is not as well developed and you are not as good at faking it as they are.

Codependency in Five Easy Lessons

Codependency can be confusing for people in a relationship with someone who has an addiction to alcohol, drugs or compulsive behaviors. Here is a simple way to understand what is going on and avoid the pitfalls.

Post-Baby Mental Health, For Dads

If you’re about to become a father, there’s little likelihood anyone will talk with you about how these experiences will change your life.

Let's Talk About Mental Health

It is time to break the silence about mental illness and start the conversation about mental health. It is time to be #StrongerTogether.

Why Your View of the Future Can Make You Depressed

Most people assume that if you're depressed, that colors your view of your future. New research turns that thinking on its head, showing that, for many, if your view of your future is negative to begin with, that can actually make you depressed. The flip side is that a positive view of your future stimulates greater mental health.

4 Keys to Happiness

Happiness is not about what you need from others, it is really about what you are willing to give to others.

Do “Autism Parents” Face Increased Stigma for Mental Health?

Despite the fact that mental health is centrally tied to our overall well-being, parents of children with autism may find themselves not only combating the general public’s shared stigma related to mental illness and therapeutic services, but must also contend with additional challenges in overcoming the stigmatization of supporting their own psychological needs.

6 Things You Can Say to Support Someone Who's Depressed

By Jean Kim M.D. on July 27, 2015 in Culture Shrink
How can well-meaning people provide support to someone with depression, aside from avoiding tendencies towards judgment? How can one head towards greater understanding and connect with someone who is suffering?

What Helicopter Parents Need to Know

How can concerned parents help today's college students become healthier, more successful young adults?

Summer Is the Most Depressing Time of Year

I know most everybody thinks that the winter holidays are the most depressing time of year, but that isn’t true. More suicides happen from the end of July through the month of August than at any other time—and we don’t know why.

Break Out of Your Boredom

People can feel imprisoned by their boredom. They are stuck in feeling restless and unmotivated with no hope of finding freedom. But there is a way out. Much like any prison break, your way out is to begin by tunneling down.

The Most Annoying Mistake Anxious People Make Every Day

Everyone wants to be heard. There's nothing wrong with wanting people to know your opinions, or how you feel. However, you may be driving others away when you open your mouth. Learn how to sharpen your communication skills and feel less stress and more calm and inner-peace.

Treating Eating Disorders the New-Fashioned Way

The establishment and assuredness of a safe and trusting relationship between patient and therapist prior to making the transition from office to on-line, plus symptoms being well under control or gone, then YES, my experience has shown that continued progress and recovery is possible, particularly for eating disorder patients with underlying anxiety & depression.

It's a Step, Not a Stop, on your Journey

Savor every single step of the journey for what it is . . . . a step, not your final "stop."

4 Mental Health Disorders That May Thrive on Loneliness

By Kira Asatryan on July 23, 2015 in The Art of Closeness
It's possible you're not mentally ill. You're just lonely.

Why Lisa Lampanelli is a ‘Spiritual Gangster’

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Lisa Lampanelli shares how helping others can help develop a strong self-concept.

Nature Calms the Mind—Even in Photos

By Temma Ehrenfeld on July 23, 2015 in Open Gently
Brain research on why nature is calming and restorative.

Freud had DP at the Acropolis; Today Teens at Venice Beach

By Elena Bezzubova on July 22, 2015 in The Search for Self
Physical and physiological stressors - bright light, overheating, dehydration, sudden climate change, spinning or fever - can precipitate fleeting feelings of unreality of oneself and the surrounding world. These transitory non-pathological episodes are characteristic for adolescents. Sometimes the episodes foreshow the full blown depersonalization-derealization syndrome.

Hormonal Changes that Trigger Depression in Women

One in four women will experience an episode of depression at least once in their lives.

What Your Financial Health Says About Your Mental Health

Studies show the likelihood of having a mental health problem is three times higher among people who have debt.

Am I Being Punished?

If we were punished for every mistake, it would for sure be a depressing world. None of us gets what we deserve, and that is usually a good thing.

Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In

Both psychiatrists and psychologists devote their careers to helping people with mental health issues. As promising as neuroscience may be for helping researchers find clues to the brain, the real key to treatment lies in therapy, not drugs. Your best bet is to explore all options when you or your loved ones seek help.

The Psychology of Box Set Binging

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on July 21, 2015 in In Excess
Recent media stories have reported on the alleged negative effects of box-set bingeing (‘Watching TV box-set marathons is warning sign you're lonely and depressed - and will also make you fat’). But what do we know about box-set bingeing psychologically and is it really bad for our health?

The Narcissism Test

By Craig Malkin PhD on July 21, 2015 in Romance Redux
The Narcissism Test -- What's Your Score?