Depression is a mood disorder. It is marked by a lasting low mood, sadness, and lack of interest in activities. Bouts of depression can last for weeks, months, or years. Treatment often helps people recover.
The exact cause of depression is not known. It is likely due to environment, personal traits, and stress.
Depression is more common in women. Many things can raise the risk of depression such as:
Depression can differ from person to person. Some have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can change over time and may include:
Sometimes there are physical symptoms. Examples are aches and pains that cannot be explained.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. The doctor may give mental health exams. Tests may be done to rule out other causes.
The goal is to ease symptoms and decrease effect on day to day life. Treatment depends on the type of depression and how severe it is. Severe depression may need hospital care. Care is urgent if someone might hurt themselves or others.
Treatment may includes a combination of the following:
Other treatments may be:
Sometimes symptoms are severe and other treatments do not work. In this case, options may be:
There are no guidelines for depression prevention since causes can vary.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Columbia University. Q&A on bright light therapy. Columbia University website. Available at: http://www.columbia.edu/~mt12/blt.htm. Accessed March 15, 2021.
Depression. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression. March 15, 2021.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed March 15, 2021.
Depression alternative treatments. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/depression-alternative-treatments. Accessed March 15,
Kandola A, Ashdown-Franks G, et al. Physical activity and depression: Towards understanding the antidepressant mechanisms of physical activity. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019;107:525-539.
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/major-depressive-disorder-mdd. Accessed March 15, 2021.
St. John's wort. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Accessed Macrh 15, 2021.
St. John's wort and depression. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/sjw-and-depression.htm. Accessed March 15, 2021.
St. John's wort for depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/st-johns-wort-for-depression . Accessed March 15, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD Last Updated: 03/15/2021