What Is Depression?

Some 15 million Americans a year 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 increasingly afflicts people worldwide, interfering with concentration, motivation and many other aspects of everyday functioning. It is a complex disorder, involving many systems of the body, including the immune system, either as cause or effect. It disrupts sleep, and it interferes with appetite, in some cases causing weight loss, in others weight gain. Because of its complexity, a full understanding of depression has been elusive.

Scientists have some evidence that the condition is related to diet, both directly—through the nutrients we consume, such as omega-3 fats—and indirectly, through the composition of the bacteria in the gut. Of course, depression involves mood and thoughts as well as the body, and it  causes pain for both those with the disorder and those who care about them. Depression is increasingly common in children.

Everyone experiences an occasional blue mood; depression is a more pervasive experience of repetitive negative rumination, bleak outlook, and lack of energy. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with depression cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. There is some evidence that, painful as depression is, it serves a positive purpose, bringing with it ways of thinking that force people to focus on problems as a prelude to solving them.

Even in the most severe cases, depression is highly treatable. The condition is often cyclical, and early treatment may prevent or forestall recurrent episodes. Many studies show that the most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, which addresses problematic thought patterns, with or without the use of antidepressant drugs. In addition, evidence is quickly accumulating that regular mindfulness meditation, on its own or combined with cognitive therapy, can stop depression before it starts by effectively disengaging attention from the repetitive negative thoughts that often set in motion the downward spiral of mood.

Recent posts on Depression

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By Linda Esposito LCSW on December 06, 2016 in From Anxiety to Zen
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By Judy Carter on December 06, 2016 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
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By Julie K. Hersh on December 03, 2016 in Struck By Living
Are you having trouble coping with the holiday family get togethers? This might help.
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Wanting Is a Trap

So are you telling me to stop wanting?

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By Neel Burton M.D. on December 02, 2016 in Hide and Seek
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isstrip at Bigstock.com

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By Susan Noonan MD on December 02, 2016 in View From the Mist
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By Neel Burton M.D. on December 02, 2016 in Hide and Seek
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By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on December 01, 2016 in Fixing Families
Your brain goes in and out of its rational state many times over the day. The key to successfully surfing your brain is recognizing what state you are in and taking action.

Amish Asthma Rates Offer Clues to Preventing Mental Illness

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Trauma Documented Three Decades After Chernobyl Disaster

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on December 01, 2016 in Talking About Trauma
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Workaholism and Psychiatric Disorders

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on December 01, 2016 in In Excess
There has been an increasing amount of research into workaholism but was is the relationship between work addiction, ADHD, OCD and depressions?

Pet Ownership Impact on Well-being Depends on Marital Status

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on November 30, 2016 in Life, Refracted
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Too Much Self-Esteem May Be Keeping Millennials Single

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Should Assisted Suicide Be Available to Everyone?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on November 27, 2016 in How To Do Life
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Where Do We Go From Here?

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By Jennifer Rollin MSW, LGSW on November 26, 2016 in Mindful Musings
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Face-to-Face Social Participation Nourishes Quality of Life

By Christopher Bergland on November 24, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
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