Research utilizing brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), shows that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear to function abnormally. It is not clear which changes seen in the brain may be the cause of depression and which ones the effect.

As of today, there is no laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose a mental disorder. Even the powerful CT, MRI, SPECT, and PET scans, which can help diagnose other neurological disorders such as stroke or brain tumors, cannot detect the subtle and complex brain changes in psychiatric illness. However, these techniques are currently useful ruling out the presence of a number of physical disorders and in research on mental health and perhaps in the future they will be useful for the diagnosis of depression, as well.

Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life's stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression as a psychiatric disorder, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings Cdc-pdf[PDF – 2.37MB]External. Rockville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2014 [accessed 2018 Mar 22].
Talk therapy involves discussing your problems and how you feel with a trained therapist. Your therapist can help you detect patterns of thought or behavior that contribute to your depression. You may be given homework, such as tracking your moods or writing in journals. This will help you to continue your treatment outside of appointments. Your therapist can also teach you exercises to reduce stress and anxiety, and help you understand your illness.
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.
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All patients are unique biochemically. Therefore, the occurrence of side effects or the lack of a satisfactory result with one SSRI does not mean that another medication in this group will not be beneficial. However, if someone in the patient's family has had a positive response to a particular drug, that drug may be the preferable one to try first.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This article mentions drugs that were FDA-approved and available at the time of publication and may not include all possible drug interactions or all FDA warnings or alerts. The author of this page explicitly does not endorse this drug or any specific treatment method. If you have health questions or concerns about interactions, please check with your physician or go to the FDA site for a comprehensive list of warnings.
Symptoms of both conditions usually improve with psychological counseling (psychotherapy), medications, such as antidepressants, or both. Lifestyle changes, such as improving sleep habits, increasing social support, using stress-reduction techniques or getting regular exercise, also may help. If you have either condition, avoid alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs. They can make both conditions worse and interfere with treatment.
Regardless of the medication that treats depression, practitioners have become more aware that both genders, each age group, and different ethnic groups may have different responses and have different risks for medication side effects than others. Also, while there are certainly treatment methods that have been determined to be effective across populations, given the individual variability of response to treatment, there should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
Certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are associated with depression — particularly serotonin (ser-o-TOE-nin), norepinephrine (nor-ep-ih-NEF-rin) and dopamine (DOE-puh-meen). Most antidepressants relieve depression by affecting these neurotransmitters. Each type (class) of antidepressant affects these neurotransmitters in slightly different ways.
TCAs have been in use since the 1950s when imipramine (Tofranil) was shown to be effective for treating depression. TCAs primarily work by increasing the level of norepinephrine in the brain and to a lesser extent serotonin levels. Some TCAs also are antihistamines (block the action of histamine) or anticholinergic (block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter), and these additional actions allow for uses of TCAs other than for treating depression as well as additional side effects.
Depression and anxiety care incorporates individual, group, and family therapy, behavioral therapies, diagnostic assessment, consultation services, tailored treatment plans, and medication evaluation and management. McLean is committed to providing robust patient and family education and support including informational materials, support groups, and assistance with community resources.

You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.


For some people, yes. Researchers think that exercise may work better than no treatment at all to treat depression.13 They also think that regular exercise can lower your risk of getting depression and help many depression symptoms get better.14 Researchers do not know whether exercise works as well as therapy or medicine to treat depression.13 People with depression often find it very difficult to exercise, even though they know it will help make them feel better. Walking is a good way to begin exercising if you haven’t exercised recently.

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.
Depression is different from anxiety. Rather than feeling anxious and nervous, feelings of gloom and melancholy overwhelm. Feeling sad or down after experiencing a loss or disappointment is an emotion that everyone feels at one time or another. But when low mood and sadness is severe and lasts for long periods of time, it could be due to depression.
Just as there are many different experiences of anxiety and depression, there are a variety of options for treatments and coping techniques to help manage symptoms.  The recommendations in this section take an integrative mental health approach, which incorporates health-promoting lifestyle changes; evidence-based holistic therapies and healing practices; and mainstream interventions, including psychosocial therapies and the judicious use of prescription medication. We cover each of these areas in detail--click the links or see the menu on the left for more information. 
Thyroid disease and disorder symptoms and signs depend on the type of the thyroid problem. Examples include heat or cold intolerance, sweating, weight loss or gain, palpitations, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, brittle hair, joint aches and pains, heart palpitations, edema, feeling bloated, puffiness in the face, reduced menstrual flow, changes in the frequency of bowel movements and habits, high cholesterol, hoarseness, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, a visible lump or swelling in the neck, tremors, memory problems, depression, nervousness, agitation, irritability, or poor concentration.

Bipolar Disorder: Formerly known as Manic Depression or Manic Depressive Disorder. While different from depression, bipolar disorder is often included in discussions around depressive disorders as it involves episodes of extreme lows similar to major depression. Someone with bipolar disorder, however, will swing in the opposite direction towards mania or extreme highs.


Not to be disrespectful of the good work you are providing here, but please don't say that medications help with the relief of depression and anxiety. It simply is not a true statement. These drugs cause severe damage to the human brain, nervous system, organs and are neurotoxins. I was severely damaged by them and now have a form of TBI caused by these drugs. In the online forums I'm in we call this a chemical brain injury. Psych meds should never be used to treat mental health disorders. There are alternative holistic treatments out there. The statement made that meds are not addictive is incorrect. Please do in depth research outside of mainstream websites. Contact me if you need valid true information about medications. Please don't go down the rabbit hole of psych meds. Please. They will cause you severe harm as they did me.

Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely and scared. These feelings are normal reactions to life's stressors. Most people feel low and sad at times. However, in the case of individuals who are diagnosed with depression as a psychiatric disorder, the manifestations of the low mood are much more severe and they tend to persist.
Depression and Anxiety, the official journal of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), welcomes original research and synthetic review articles covering neurobiology (genetics and neuroimaging), epidemiology, experimental psychopathology, and treatment (psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic) aspects of mood and anxiety disorders and related phenomena in humans.
Treatment for anxiety disorders and depression needs to be administered and managed by a psychiatrist, Connolly says. "It's really crucial for people with both [anxiety and depression] to have a good assessment to rule out bipolar disorder," she says. Bipolar disorder, a condition in which emotions can swing from very low to very high levels of mania and depression, is treated much differently than anxiety disorder with depression.

Strengthen your social support. Although you cannot control your depression diagnosis, there are some things you can control. You can seek or create a positive support system for yourself. Whether your social network stems from your spouse, family members, close friends, co-workers, religious organizations, or community groups, support is available.


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.
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