Depression Basics

A man is sitting on a bench.It’s common to have days where you don’t feel like yourself. You’re discouraged at work because you can’t seem to do anything right. Your gym bag is collecting dust because, what’s the point, it wasn’t working anyway. At home, you don’t seem to take joy in the same things you once did. It would all be better if you curled up in bed and slept for two weeks. For some people, these feelings pass. For others, it may be a sign of depression or other mood disorder.

What is depression?

The National Institute of Mental Health classifies depression, also known as clinical depression or depressive disorder, as a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and handle daily functions. These feelings are generally present most of the day, every day for at least two weeks. According to the World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression.


You don’t need to go through a horrific life experience to have depression. While trauma is a cause, depression may have many causes. Depression may be triggered by:

  • Trauma: Experiencing a great loss or traumatic experience may cause long-term changes in how the brain responds to fear or stress.
  • Genetics: Depression may run in your family.
  • Brain changes: Studies have shown that depression has an effect on changes in the frontal lobe, pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
  • Medical conditions: Patients who have sleep disorders, chronic pain or anxiety disorders may be more likely to develop depression.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: Thirty percent of those with substance abuse may also have problems with depression.
  • Chronic stress and role overload: Conditions like this may cause physical ailments and leave patients feeling vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Treatment and support

The American Psychiatric Association reports that 80-90 percent of those with depression respond to treatment over time and most of them gain some relief from their symptoms. Your doctor will conduct an evaluation that will help determine the best course of treatment. Treatments may involve medication or psychotherapy. If you think you may be experiencing a loss of interest, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or difficulty handling daily activities, talk to your doctor. For more information or a referral to a behavioral health practitioner, call (877) 850-9613.