Frequently Asked Questions

What is Depression?

Everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you’re sad most of the time, and it’s causing you problems with your relationships, with your family and friends, with alcohol or other drugs, or with controlling your behavior in other ways, the problem may be depression.
The good news is that you can get treatment and feel better soon. Most people with depression can be helped with treatment. But when depression isn’t treated, it can get worse, last longer and prevent you from getting the most out of your life.

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.

A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing “blue” mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years.

Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. Depression is common to all age and racial groups. It affects the old and young, rich and poor, men and women. However, in general, clinical depression is twice as common in women as it is in men.

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Loss of satisfaction with life
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Diminished capacity to give or receive affection
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Physical aches and pains (including headaches and lower back pain)
  • Excessive crying
  • Decreased energy, fatigue or slowed thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability or hyperactivity
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain

If you or someone you know has had five or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, professional evaluation is recommended. The most important thing anyone can do for a depressed person is to help him or her find treatment immediately.

Just talking about your problems sometimes leads to new solutions. If you or someone you know needs information, guidance or help, call our Respond program at 1-800-366-1132. Respond offers confidential, caring assessments and referrals for individuals dealing with problems related to mental health issues and substance abuse. If you or a loved one are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 immediately.