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 the gut and its population of bacteria, which is heavily influenced by diet. 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 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 a 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.

TD Specialty: 
Issues - Depression
TD Pull Quote: 
Find a Depression Therapist

Recent Posts on Depression

Robert Stolorow on Emotional Trauma and Psychoanalysis

the future of mental health interview series continues with Robert Stolorow on emotional trauma and psychoanalysis

Depression in Children

What are the risk factors for childhood depression and how can it be treated?

Gayle Flanigan on Rose Hill Center

The future of mental health interview series continues with Gayle Flanigan on Rose Hill Center.

Mindfulness Meditation and the Vagus Nerve Share Many Powers

New research shows that mindfulness meditation and a new non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator can optimize brain connectivity, reduce depression, and improve overall well-being.

Adolescents and Depression — Part 2

Here's what you need to know about diagnosing depression in your teen clients.

Robert Salvit on Kabbalah and Spiritual Healing

The future of mental health interview series continues with Robert Salvit on Kabbalah and spiritual healing.

The Best Kept Secret to Energy Management—Backed by Science

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on February 04, 2016 Feeling It
Work hard, play hard? Think again, data shows. Why living life in the fast lane can slow you down, and what to do instead.

9 Relaxation Techniques to Cope with Depression

Depression is a condition that makes you feel unenthusiastic toward life. Here are 9 techniques to combat depression.

The Downside to Trying to Be Happy

Postpartum women in distress need to lower their expectations.

What's New in Neuropsychology?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 04, 2016 How To Do Life
Will today's "exciting findings" finally yield tomorrow's real sbreakthroughs?

Why Is Neuroticism So Toxic?

Neuroticism is widely considered the most toxic of the "Big Five" personality traits. Read this blog post for some easy tips on how-to become less neurotic.

Screening for Depression in Pregnancy

New recommendations mean that insurers will be required to screen pregnant and postpartum women for depression.

These U.S. Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on February 02, 2016 The Squeaky Wheel
How many presidents would you guess had mental illness?

10 Smart Self-Care Tips to Avoid Stress and Increase Joy

Is it time for you to re-define self-care as a luxury? Research suggests it's a necessity.

7 Signs It's More Than Just the Winter Blues

A winter slump isn't unusual but for some people, seasonal affective disorder is a serious problem.

Day 14: James Maddux on Positive Clinical Psychology

The future of mental health interview series continues with James Maddux on positive clinical psychology

Say Yes to Happiness and No to Depression

Has life taken on never-ending gray skies? Find out how to get the sun to shine.

Day 13: Lucy Johnstone on Psychological Formulation

The future of mental health interview series continues with Lucy Johnstone on critical psychiatry and psychological formulation.

College Athletes May Be More Depressed Than You Think

Similar to the compulsive exerciser whose tireless adherence to fitness most people admire, many college athletes may be struggling beneath a veneer of achievement.

Six Reasons to Give Someone a Second Chance

When people bother you to the point where you’re done and ready to excise them from your life, before you do, consider these 6 reasons to give them a second chance.

Depression Screening - What Should We Do?

The government wants every adult to be screened for depression - then what?

It's Good That Mental Illness Gets the Celebrity Treatment

Lena Dunham is doing a good job promoting mental illness openness and that's invaluable, because too few people do.

5 Types of Support That Would Complement PPD Screenings

Here are 5 ways we could provide moms with support that would complement universal screenings.

Daughters Inherit Emotional Control From Their Mothers

A new study finds a link between the brain circuitry of mothers and that of their daughters.

The Postpartum Depression Screening Wars: Is PPD "Real"?

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on January 29, 2016 Child in Mind
Can we take a close look at the issue of postpartum depression screening in all its complexity in striving for the best outcome for children and families?

Day 11: Monica Cassani on Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

The future of mental health interview series continues with Monica Cassani on Beyond Meds: Everything Matters.

Tweeting, Not Sleeping? Balancing Sleep and Social Media

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on January 28, 2016 Sleep Newzzz
According to just-released research, time spent on social media may be seriously undermining nightly rest.

Eggshell Relationships

By Joe Navarro M.A. on January 28, 2016 Spycatcher
How can you recognize an emotionally unstable personality before he or she harms you?

My Postpartum Surprise Guest

Finally, a plan to prevent postpartum depression

Gender Pay Inequality and Mental Health

Beyond Bullying! It's hard to believe that in this day and age, women are still treated as second class citizens in the workplace.