Even though clinical depression tends to occur in episodes, most people who experience one such episode will eventually have another one. Also, it seems that any subsequent episodes of depression are more easily triggered than the first one. However, most depression sufferers recover from the episode. In fact, individuals who have mild depression and receive treatment with medication tend to respond equally as well to sugar pill (placebo). Those with more severe depression seem to be less likely to get better when taking placebo versus taking antidepressant medication. Other encouraging information is that research shows that even people from teenage through adulthood who do not improve when treated with a first medication trial can improve when switched to another medication or given another medication in addition to psychotherapy. For individuals who experience thoughts of suicide, preventing access to firearms and other highly lethal means of committing suicide are important ways to improve their safety and that of those around them.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be successful in treating depression and anxiety disorders. CBT combines the fundamental concepts of behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. The term “cognitive” refers to our thought process and reflects what we think, believe and perceive. Put together, CBT focuses on our behaviors and thoughts and how they are contributing to our current symptoms and difficulties.

Generally, people who have anxiety or depression disorders display significant disruptions in their ability to work, go to school, or participate in social functions. But with high-functioning anxiety and depression, although those disruptions are not as apparent, they still can occur. The signs and symptoms are often overlooked, because sufferers are able to manage daily activities, but they are suffering in silence. To the outside world, people living with high-functioning anxiety and depression seem fine and often excel at accomplishing tasks and goals.


Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were some of the first medications used to treat depression. Examples are amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane), doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil). Side effects include stomach upset, dizziness, dry mouth, changes in blood pressure, changes in blood sugar levels, and nausea.
People who are depressed will usually show a style of thinking that focuses on negative views of the world. They often think of themselves as worthless and of the world as being a bad or unfair place, and they are without hope that their lives will improve in the future. When something bad happens, they blame themselves, but when good things happen, they tell themselves they are just lucky. Furthermore, people with depression are less likely to recognize and appreciate positive events when they happen; rather, they tend to be more tuned into the bad things in their lives and brood over those events.

Youth—More than a quarter of a million Canadian youth—6.5% of people between 15 and 24—experience major depression each year. Depression can be hard to recognize in youth because parents and caregivers often mistake a teen’s mood swings and irritability for normal adolescence, rather than depression. Studies have shown that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered youth have higher rates of major depression.
Depression is a mental health illness when someone feels sad (including crying often), empty, or hopeless most of the time (or loses interest in or takes no pleasure in daily activities) for at least 2 weeks. Depression affects a person’s ability to work, go to school, or have relationships with friends and family. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States.2 It is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It can affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things.
Doctors at NIMH are dedicated to mental health research, including clinical trials of possible new treatments as well as studies to understand the causes and effects of depression. The studies take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and require regular visits. After the initial phone interview, you will come to an appointment at the clinic and meet with one of our clinicians. Find NIMH studies currently recruiting participants with depression by visiting Join a Research Study: Depression.
Although no one knows exactly why, depression and anxiety often occur together. In one study, 85% of those with major depression were also diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and 35% had symptoms of panic disorder. Other anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because they so often go hand in hand, anxiety and depression are considered the fraternal twins of mood disorders.
Sadness can be a difficult emotion to deal with, not only due to the pain it causes, but also because of the factors that caused the sadness in the first place. Sadness can be the result of loss, helplessness, or disappointment, among many other things. It is important to remember, though, that sadness is one of the most common and natural human emotions, and is something that will ultimately help us appreciate our happy times.
We’ve all felt “sad” or “blue” at one time or another. Rare bouts of depression that last only a few days are usually not a problem for most people. But, clinical depression—the type that people seek help for—is a different story. The DSM 5 uses the term “major depressive disorder” to classify and diagnose clinical depression. Major depressive episodes are the hallmark features of this type of depression. These episodes are characterized by extreme symptoms that interfere with daily functioning.
Explore options if it doesn't work well. If you have bothersome side effects or no significant improvement in your symptoms after four weeks, talk to your doctor about changing the dose, trying a different antidepressant (switching), or adding a second antidepressant or another medication (augmentation). A medication combination may work better for you than a single antidepressant.
This class of drugs is frequently used for short-term management of anxiety and as an add on treatment, in treatment resistant anxiety disorders.They are not recommended as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam) are highly effective in promoting relaxation and reducing muscular tension and other physical symptoms of anxiety. Long-term use may require increased doses to achieve the same effect, which may lead to problems related to tolerance and dependence.

Mirtazapine (Remeron), another antidepressant, is a tetracyclic compound (four-ring chemical structure). It works at somewhat different biochemical sites and in different ways than the other medications. It affects serotonin but at a postsynaptic site (after the connection between nerve cells). It also increases histamine levels, which can cause drowsiness. For this reason, patients take mirtazapine at bedtime; physicians often prescribe mirtazapine for people who have trouble falling asleep. Like the SNRIs, it also works by increasing levels in the norepinephrine system. Other than causing sedation, this medication has side effects that are similar to those of the SSRIs.


Doctors at NIMH are dedicated to mental health research, including clinical trials of possible new treatments as well as studies to understand the causes and effects of depression. The studies take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and require regular visits. After the initial phone interview, you will come to an appointment at the clinic and meet with one of our clinicians. Find NIMH studies currently recruiting participants with depression by visiting Join a Research Study: Depression.
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