What is Depression?

Depression is a form of a mood disorder characterized by persistent negative feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and decreased pleasure in most aspects of daily living. Depression affects feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that lead to emotional and physical distress. These concerns can increase in severity cause feelings of hopelessness or that life is not worth living.

Depression is not something someone can just “stop feeling”, or “move on” from feeling. Depression is not a negative mood, but it does have consistent feelings of being in a negative mood that are typically relieved with support through psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities or environments that used to be pleasurable
  • Decreased libido
  • Disruption to regular sleep patterns (ie. insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy, all tasks require a lot of effort
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability, outbursts of anger
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Fixation on failures or self-blame
  • Challenges with concentration or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of suicide or death

What Are the Different Types of Depression?

  • Dysthymia – mild depression that lasts several years
  • Seasonal Affect Disorder – depression that follows the patterns of the seasons (comes and goes based on weather or environmental changes)
  • Postpartum/Postnatal Depression – a depression that mothers or parents can experience following the birth of a child

Getting Support

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or that you may attempt suicide, call 911 or local emergency number IMMEDIATELY.

  • Contact suicide hotline: Call 988, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Veterans/Service members: Call 988 and press 1 “Veteran Crisis Line”
  • Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for Spanish Speakers: 1-888-628-9454

Depression is a treatable disorder that can be best managed with changes to lifestyle, environment, and access to supportive resources. Psychotherapy and medication are common ways to treat and support symptoms of depression, and are best managed with the support of a medical provider or mental health specialist.

  • Medication: If medication has been prescribed, it’s important to take it as prescribed and communicate with your healthcare professional about any side effects or concerns.
  • Therapy: Behavioral therapy, coaching, and other supportive services can help you learn coping strategies and develop skills to manage symptoms, such as time management, organization, and social skills.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression, improve focus and concentration, and decrease stress.
  • Sleep: Adequate sleep is important for managing symptoms of depression. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and establish a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Nutrition: A healthy diet can help improve symptoms of depression. Avoid foods high in sugar and processed foods, and focus on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
  • Stress management: Stress can exacerbate depressive symptoms, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can be helpful.
  • Support system: Having a supportive network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals can be beneficial in managing depression. Seek out support groups or organizations dedicated to depression awareness and advocacy.

Remember, everyone’s experience with depression or related disorders is different, so it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized plan for managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.