What Is Depression?

Some 15 million Americans struggle with depressionan illness that comes in many forms—from major depression and seasonal affective disorder, to dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Depressive disorder 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 or her.

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 depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better.

Depression, even in the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder. 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

Let´s Go to the Movies

By Ana Nogales on March 26, 2015 in Family Secrets
Movies have the ability to change our attitude, how we think and feel, and even our values.

What Makes You Say You’re Lonely?

By Peter Toohey on March 26, 2015 in Annals of the Emotions
What does it mean to be lonely and how do say that you are lonely? Is language enough to describe it? Are you lonely just because you think you are lonely and say you are lonely? Or are specific circumstances required for there to be loneliness? What does loneliness mean for the animal and human brain? Is loneliness and the word “loneliness” common to all cultures?

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a powerful method of overcoming trauma via the mind-body connection, and often without medication. This piece by Saint-Laurent and Bird is a great introduction for those considering the treatment as well as for therapists interested in SE training.

Surprise

By The Book Brigade on March 26, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Surprise is good for the brain, great for relationships, and adds a certain frisson all around. Without it, life is lackluster. So why don't more people embrace the unexpected? They run from it or try to subdue it when they should instead roll with it.

Recovering From Seasonal Shifts in Mood in Bipolar Disorder

By Elizabeth Brondolo Ph.D. on March 26, 2015 in Take Control
For people who have bipolar disorder, seasonal changes in mood can disrupt your health and well being. You can learn to recognize and address these seasonal shifts before they cause harm. We examine the effects of these shifts on motivation, thinking and identity. Early recognition can help you gain better control of bipolar spectrum disorder.

Whatever Happened to Health?

What you don't count often counts most. If the numbers are good, how bad can things be? Pretty bad.

Precision Medicine’s Cultural Limits

"Everyone is different." This is the fundamental tenant of Precision Medicine: to utilize this difference to improve outcome. Real life is more complicated, and there is a lot that is not yet worked out before this approach will yield benefits.

Anorexia and the Dangers of Blog Post Titles

By Emily T. Troscianko on March 26, 2015 in A Hunger Artist
Few topics induce stronger emotion than parenting and children’s illness, and where emotions are heightened miscommunication can easily occur. Here I try to clarify my mother’s original argument, respond to some readers’ comments which blur the crucial distinction between personal and scientific ‘findings’, and reflect on the role of choice in recovery from anorexia.

4 Steps to End Emotional Eating

Is food your best friend and your worst enemy? It doesn't have to be this way.

Changing Our Perspectives on Mental Illness and Health

Addicts and those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD are frequently overwhelmed by shame. This is not just an internal issue of being ashamed of past behaviors.

Creativity and Mental Illness II: The Scream

In a previous post, I showed Jackson Pollock's creation of abstract expressionism during a healthy period. Here, we see Edvard Munch's use of healthy creative processes to produce the famous lithograph "The Scream." Although both artists suffered from Bipolar Disorders, their creative work and thinking consisted of healthy mental processes.

When You Don't Have Time for Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Now that spring has sprung, it's a good time to focus on becoming healthier. For many, this may sound like an overwhelming task. But creating small, reasonable goals is the best way to make lifestyle changes.

March Madness

By Jeffrey Lieberman M.D. on March 24, 2015 in Shrink Speak
Students and parents rarely consider that they might need mental health services during college and often urgently. For this reason, they would be well advised to include the quality and availability of mental health services along with traditional considerations as they decide on the college of their choice.

Resilience: 4 Ways to Move Forward After Time Stands Still

Resiliency is a gift, but in some ways it is an art that can be cultivated.

Racism: Our Collective Complicity, Denial and Naiveté

To honestly confront the psychological illness of racism, America needs a true mirror, one that reflects our light and our shadow; one that provokes a real moral and spiritual awakening.

Is Digital Life Risky?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in The Human Beast
Young people who grew up with digital technologies and cannot conceive of a life without the Internet, digital games, and social media are sometimes called “digital natives” whereas older generations who acquired these technologies as adults are “digital immigrants.” Digital natives have many advantages but “addiction” to screens has its critics.

Are You a Traumatized Woman?

By Rosemary K.M. Sword on March 24, 2015 in The Time Cure
When we peruse the landscape of our world half the women we see have experienced a life-altering traumatic event, perhaps a natural disaster like a tornado, or a human-made disaster such as a car accident. And 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. But this number is probably much higher because these are only reported cases.

Is America Addicted to War?

By Ray Williams on March 23, 2015 in Wired for Success
War has become the new normal for the U.S. Militarization, the justification for violence, and the privatization of war are now firmly entrenched.

10 Ways Musical Training Boosts Brain Power

A wide range of new research shows that playing a musical instrument can boost brain function throughout a person's lifespan.

The One-Minute Group Meditation

Of all the interventions available for facilitators, this one minute at the end of group has impressed me most.

Yes, You Can Get Addicted to Exercise

For approximately 3 percent of the population, striving to stay fit does them more harm than good.

For More Sex, Spend More Time in Bed—Sleeping

By Linda Wasmer Andrews on March 23, 2015 in Minding the Body
In a recent study, getting an extra hour of sleep increased women’s likelihood of having sex with a partner the next day by 14 percent.

Why We Like (Or Don't Like) Comfort Foods

By Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M. on March 23, 2015 in Head Games
We all know that stress can affect your diet. But a new study finds that there's much more to the story.

The 3Y Secret to Greater Contentment

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on March 22, 2015 in In Control
Once people come to understand themselves and their important motivations more clearly, they can evaluate for themselves whether the road they are currently on is likely to take them in the direction they wish to travel.

Cops Helping Cops

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on March 22, 2015 in Shadow Boxing
Ten cops contribute stories to an anthology dedicated to fallen officers.

Book Review: Wisdom from the Couch

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on March 22, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Jennifer Kunst shares the warmer, friendlier side of Kleinian psychology in this interview and book review.

How to Know if Your Teen Is Seriously Suicidal

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 21, 2015 in Open Gently
Headaches, insomnia, all-over skin sensations, and drinking alcohol are all danger signs.

New Discoveries About Depression

By Todd B Kashdan Ph.D. on March 20, 2015 in Curious?
The ultimate guide to understanding depression based on the best, cutting edge science and a description from David Foster Wallace - a genius, one of the best authors of the modern era, who also killed himself to stop the unrelenting pain. What does it really feel like to be in the throes of a major depressive episode?

Don't Believe Everything You Think

Every human mind generates fear much of the time, unless we "retrain" the mind. Without conscious management on our parts, fear can permeate our thoughts -- and poison our relationships with our children. That’s why fear has to be consciously confronted. Here is how.

Rumination and Your Health

By Dr. Amelia Aldao Ph.D. on March 19, 2015 in Sweet Emotion
Getting suck in ruminative cycles is associated with poor physiological outcomes, such as increased cortisol reactivity and prolonged cardiovascular reactivity