Several types of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy” or, in a less specific form, counseling) can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy. More information on psychotherapy is available on the NIMH website and in the NIMH publication Depression: What You Need to Know.

A mental health specialist is the type of professional best equipped to make a reliable diagnosis for this condition. These kinds of professionals include psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinical social workers. While a general practitioner or family doctor may be able to make an initial diagnosis, further followup and treatment should be done by a specialist for the best treatment results.


Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health disorders. In the U.S., approximately 19 million people suffer from anxiety and 18 million from depression. Additionally, it is estimated that about 85 percent of Americans with depression also suffer from an anxiety disorder, and almost 54 percent of people with an anxiety disorder also have major depression.

During the holidays, our thoughts may gravitate to memories of our youth, growing up and time spent with family and friends. But as often happens when we age, family members and friends pass away. Loved ones move far away because of family and job obligations. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can take hold, especially during the holidays, a time that in the past was filled with activities and traditions with family and friends.


Another type of depression is called Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). The essential feature of this mood disorder is a low, dark or sad mood that is persistently present for most of the day and on most days, for at least 2 years (children and adolescents may experience predominantly irritability and the mood persist for at least 1 year). For the individual to receive the diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder they should also have two of the diagnostic symptoms which include poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, or feelings of hopelessness. During this period, any symptom-free intervals last no longer than two months. The symptoms are not as severe as with major depression. Major depression may precede persistent depressive disorder, and major depressive episodes may also occur during persistent depressive disorder.
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.
Programs that use mental health professionals to teach thinking skills (cognitive techniques) that assist in coping with stress seem to be effective in preventing depression. Key aspects in the prevention of postpartum depression include helping new mothers decrease those specific aspects of their lives that may contribute to depression, like having little social support and poor adjustment to their marriage or other domestic union. Engaging in religious or spiritual practices can often prevent depression, thought to be the result of decreasing stress, increasing a sense of hope, and providing a sense of community. On the other hand, people who feel they are unable to live up to the standards set by their family, societal, religious, or spiritual practices may feel a sense of guilt that becomes a risk factor for depression.
Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression); a mental health condition characterized by an inescapable and ongoing low mood often accompanied by low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure in activities that a person used to find enjoyable.  To meet the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), symptoms must be present nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. MDD is also often referred to as Major Depression.
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It’s common for people to feel anxious if there’s conflict in a relationship, a problem at work, a big test looming or a major decision dead ahead. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For people with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away. It often gets worse over time to the point where feelings interfere with their daily functions.3
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were one of the first approved antidepressants. Although they are effective, they have been replaced by newer antidepressants that generally cause fewer side effects. Like SNRIs, TCAs work by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Additionally, they block muscarinic M1, histamine H1, and alpha-adrenergic receptors.

Crisis lines aren’t only for people in crisis. You can call for information on local services or if you just need someone to talk to. If you are in distress, call 310-6789 (do not add 604, 778 or 250 before the number) 24 hours a day to connect to a BC crisis line, without a wait or busy signal. The crisis lines linked in through 310-6789 have received advanced training in mental health issues and services by members of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information.
A person’s personality characteristics are an important factor. When people are depressed, they usually have a very negative view of themselves and the world. They do not appreciate good things, and bad things seem overwhelming. Some people have a tendency to view things this way even when they are not depressed. In other words, they may have a depressive personality style.
People who are depressed may reject your help because they feel they should be able to help themselves, and feel worthless when they can’t. Instead, they may withdraw or start an argument in an effort to resolve their difficulties. In addition, people with depression may have negative thoughts and feel so hopeless that they do not see recovery as a reality.
Patients often are tempted to stop their medication too soon, especially when they begin feeling better. It is important to keep taking medication therapy until the doctor says to stop, even if the patient feels better beforehand. Doctors often will continue the antidepressant medications for at least six to 12 months after symptoms are alleviated because the risk of depression quickly returning when treatment is stopped decreases after that period of time in those people experiencing their first depressive episode. Patients must stop some medications gradually to give the body time to adjust (see discontinuation of antidepressants below). For individuals with bipolar disorder, recurrent or chronic major depression, medication may have to become a part of everyday life for an extended period of years in order to avoid disabling symptoms.
^ Jump up to: a b Hoprekstad ØL, Hetland J, Bakker AB, Olsen OK, Espevik R, Wessel M, Einarsen SV (2019-03-04). "How long does it last? Prior victimization from workplace bullying moderates the relationship between daily exposure to negative acts and subsequent depressed mood". European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 28 (2): 164–178. doi:10.1080/1359432X.2018.1564279.
See a psychiatrist, not a family physician. Your family physician might help you or your loved one first realize that you need depression treatment. But although any medical doctor can prescribe medications, psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental health treatment. They are more likely to be familiar with the newest research on antidepressants and any safety concerns. Your health depends on your doctor’s expertise, so it’s important to choose the most qualified physician.
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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