Depressive Disorders
Depression is a mood disorder, characterized as having a lasting low mood, sadness, and lack of interest in activities. Episodes of depressions can last for weeks to years. People with depression have significant difficulty with their daily functioning in important areas of their life (e.g. self care, family and friends, school, work).
Last Updated: February 24, 2024

There is no single cause for depression; it is likely due a combination of an individual’s genetic makeup, personal traits, environmental conditions, and stress. Many factors can raise the risk for depression, such as: • A personal or family history of depression • Long-term illnesses • History of other mental disorders (anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder) • Stressful, traumatic events (abuse, financial issues, death of a loved one) • Hormone changes (menstrual cycles, pregnancy) • Alcohol and drug abuse

Symptoms to look out for in a person who may have depression include: • A depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day • Loss of interest in hobbies, activities, or sex • Changes in eating or weight • Sleeping too much or too little • Feeling tired all the time • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or guilty • Trouble with focusing, memory, or decision-making • Thoughts of death or suicide

The goal in managing depression is to improve symptoms and daily functioning. Treatment may include medications such as antidepressants and counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. Lifestyle changes such as having a healthy diet and daily exercise may help improve symptoms. It is also important to reduce stress, strengthen social supports, and encourage participation in daily activities at home or in the community. Finally, regular follow-up with a psychiatrist is necessary to monitor whether the individual is improving or not.

Currently, no intervention has been proven to effectively prevent depression, but one may help keep depression from coming back by: • Exercising regularly • Building stronger relationships • Finding ways to reduce stress • Maintaining the prescribed treatment • Getting enough rest • Having a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight • Stopping cigarette smoking and minimizing alcohol intake • Getting help if one doesn’t feel right
Last Updated: February 24, 2024