What is it?

The word depression is used in many different ways. People feel sad or blue when bad things happen. However, everyday “blues” or sadness is not a depressive disorder. We all may have a short-term depressed mood, but we cope and soon recover without treatment. A major depressive disorder lasts for at least two weeks and affects a person’s ability to work, to carry out usual daily activities, and to have satisfying personal relationships.

The median age of onset is 32 years, meaning that half the people who will have an episode will have had their first episode by this age. Depression often co-occurs with anxiety or substance use disorders. Depression is more common in females than in males. Once a person has had an occurrence of depression, they are prone to additional episodes. 

Signs and Symptoms: 

A person who is clinically depressed would have at least one of these two symptoms nearly every day, for at least two weeks:

  • An unusually sad mood
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable


A person may also have these symptoms:

  • Lack of energy and tiredness
  • Feeling worthless or feeling guilty, though not really at fault
  • Thinking often about death or wishing to be dead
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Moving more slowly or sometimes becoming agitated and unable to settle
  • Having sleeping difficulties or sometimes sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in food or sometimes eating too much. Changes in eating habits may lead to either loss of weight or weight gain
Support Strategies: 
  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies
  • American Association of Suicidology
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
  • Mental Health America
  • Depression Screening
  • MoodGYM
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Council for Behavioral Health
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • Postpartum Support International
  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center


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