The nerve cells in our brain use various chemicals to pass on impulses. Even though not all details are known, experts believe that depression is caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals like serotonin which then affects some nerve connections. Antidepressants aim to increase the availability of these chemicals. The various drugs do that in different ways.

Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, than in the general population.6 About 3 out of every 10 cigarettes smoked by adults in the United States are smoked by persons with mental health conditions.6 Why smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is uncertain. More research is needed to determine this. No matter the cause‚ smoking is not a treatment for depression or anxiety. Getting help for your depression and anxiety and quitting smoking is the best way to feel better.


Depression, also known as clinical or major depression, is a mood disorder that will affect one in eight Canadians at some point in their lives. It changes the way people feel, leaving them with mental and physical symptoms for long periods of time. It can look quite different from person to person. Depression can be triggered by a life event such as the loss of a job, the end of a relationship or the loss of a loved one, or other life stresses like a major deadline, moving to a new city or having a baby. Sometimes it seems not to be triggered by anything at all. One of the most important things to remember about depression is that people who have it can’t just “snap out of it” or make it go away. It’s a real illness, and the leading cause of suicide.
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.

Bear in mind that while effective treatment for anxiety or depression need not be a long-term commitment, it is likely to require regular, ongoing appointments at least in the short-term (e.g., 6-12 months). Therefore, it is critical to find a professional you trust and with whom you feel comfortable speaking about your symptoms. It is equally important to make sure that you find a clinician that you can afford. Before making the commitment for ongoing care, you may want to meet with a couple of providers to get a feel for therapeutic styles/approaches and their treatment recommendations; you can then use this information to determine which path forward feels best to you.
Medication may be right for you if depression is interfering with your ability to function in an important part of your life—work, school, or in your relationships, for example. However, many people use antidepressants when therapy, exercise, or self-help strategies would work just as well or better—minus the unpleasant side effects. Even if you decide to take medication, it’s a good idea to pursue therapy and lifestyle changes that can help you get to the bottom of your underlying issues and develop the tools to beat depression for good. See Coping with Depression and Depression Treatment
Measures of depression as an emotional disorder include, but are not limited to: Beck Depression Inventory-11 and the 9-item depression scale in the Patient Health Questionnaire. Both of these measures are psychological tests that asks on personal questions of the participant, and have mostly been used to measure the severity of depression. Several studies, however, have used these measures to also determine healthy individuals who are not suffering from depression as a mental disorder, but as an occasional mood disorder. This is substantiated by the fact that depression as an emotional disorder displays similar symptoms to minimal depression and low levels of mental disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder, thus researchers were able to use the same measure interchangeably. In terms of the scale, participants scoring between 0-13 and 0-4 respectively were considered healthy individuals.[27] Another measure of depressed mood would be the IWP multi-affect indicator.[28] It is a psychological test that indicates various emotions, such as enthusiasm and depression, and asks for the degree of the emotions that the participants have felt in the past week. There are studies that have used lesser items from the IWP Multi-affect Indicator which was then scaled down to daily levels to measure the daily levels of depression as a emotional disorder.[29]
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.

If you tend to worry a lot, even when there’s no reason, you may have anxiety. It may be something you are so used to that you may think it’s just “how you are.” Common worries include health, money, family, or work. While everyone worries about these things once in a while, if you always expect the worst, it can get in the way of living a normal life. Though researchers are still investigating the causes of anxiety, they have identified the areas of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety and are using proven studies to increase knowledge in this field in an effort to create improved treatments for anxiety and related disorders.
355 million people are affected by depression, making it one of the most common disorders in the world. Over 40 million American adults are affected by anxiety, making anxiety disorders the most common mental health conditions in the United States. At McLean Hospital, we are committed to providing support for individuals with depression and anxiety through world-class treatment, innovative research into causes and cures, and robust education for patients and families, clinicians, and the broader community.

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.


Behavioral activation is the practice of gradually increasing activity to experience more pleasure and mastery in life, according to Joel Minden, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Chico Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. The therapeutic technique is relatively new, so it has a limited amount of research backing it. Nonetheless, it did spring from cognitive behavior therapy [CBT], which has mountains of research to support its efficacy.

Depression, also known as clinical or major depression, is a mood disorder that will affect one in eight Canadians at some point in their lives. It changes the way people feel, leaving them with mental and physical symptoms for long periods of time. It can look quite different from person to person. Depression can be triggered by a life event such as the loss of a job, the end of a relationship or the loss of a loved one, or other life stresses like a major deadline, moving to a new city or having a baby. Sometimes it seems not to be triggered by anything at all. One of the most important things to remember about depression is that people who have it can’t just “snap out of it” or make it go away. It’s a real illness, and the leading cause of suicide.
The SSRIs are not thought to be as worrisome in patients with cardiac disease, as they do not appear to exert any effect on blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac conduction, or cardiac rhythm; however, dose-dependent QT prolongation has been reported with citalopram. Because of the risk for QT prolongation, citalopram is contraindicated in individuals with congenital long QT syndrome. [103, 104]
This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. Vertical Health & PsyCom do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of this website is conditional upon your acceptance of our User Agreement.
Behavioral therapies for depression require a commitment to changing behaviors that make depression worse. They often focus on getting involved in enjoyable or rewarding activities, knowing that if you force yourself to do these things your mood will improve over time. Changing thoughts about certain aspects of life can also be useful. Behavioral interventions for anxiety include safe and gradual exposure to the things that the patient fears. It too involves changing how the patient thinks about those things. Behavioral therapies are effective for depression, and tend to be more effective than medication for anxiety disorders, particularly for long-term relief. For many patients, combining medication and behavioral therapy is better than either one alone for depression, anxiety, and headache.
However, researchers have also been looking into ketamine for treating depression. And results have been encouraging. Ketamine may have a “rapid onset” of antidepressant effect, meaning that it can help people feel better quickly. That boost may be temporary, lasting just a few days. And unlike antidepressants you can take once a day at home, ketamine must be injected or given by IV. Repeated treatments at a clinic might be necessary to help produce a long-lasting antidepressant effect, and psychiatrists and family doctors might not feel comfortable doing that. But here’s the promise: Quicker relief that helps people start living their lives again — getting out of that depressive funk sooner.
Despite major advances in drugs and medical treatments, maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active, and not smoking are still the best approaches to preventing heart disease. In this Special Health Report, Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart, find out how improving your diet lowers your risk for heart disease in many ways, including helping to lower high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as preventing obesity and improving the function of your heart and blood vessels. Fortunately, a heart-healthy diet is relatively easy to define, and you don’t have to give up great-tasting food.
Persistent depressive disorder, formerly referred to as dysthymia, is a less severe but usually more long-lasting type of depression (dysphoric) compared to major depression. It involves long-term (chronic) symptoms that do not disable but prevent the affected person from functioning at "full steam" or from feeling good. Sometimes, people with persistent depressive disorder also experience episodes of major depression. Double-depression is the name for this combination of the two types of depression.
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.
With the ECT procedure, a brain stimulation therapy, a physician passes an electric current through the brain to produce controlled convulsions (seizures). ECT is useful for certain patients, particularly for those who cannot take or have not responded to a number of antidepressants, have severe depression, and/or are at a high risk for suicide. ECT often is effective in cases where trials of a number of antidepressant medications do not provide sufficient relief of symptoms. This procedure probably works, as previously mentioned, by a massive neurochemical release in the brain due to the controlled seizure. Often highly effective, ECT relieves depression within one to two weeks after beginning treatments in many people. After ECT, some patients will continue to have maintenance ECT, while others will return to antidepressant medications or have a combination of both treatments.
Antidepressants, sometimes in combination with psychotherapy, are often the first treatment people get for depression. If one antidepressant doesn't work well, you might try another drug of the same class or a different class of depression medicines altogether. Your doctor might also try changing the dose. In some cases, your doctor might recommend taking more than one medication for your depression.
Some people with milder forms of depression get better after treatment with therapy. People with moderate to severe depression might need a type of medicine called an antidepressant in addition to therapy. Antidepressants change the levels of certain chemicals in your brain. It may take a few weeks or months before you begin to feel a change in your mood. There are different types of antidepressant medicines, and some work better than others for certain people. Some people get better only with both treatments — therapy and antidepressants.
Not only does it take time to get an accurate depression diagnosis, finding the right medication to treat depression can be a complicated, delicate process. Someone may have a serious medical problem, such as heart disease or liver or kidney disease, that could make some antidepressants unsafe. The antidepressant could be ineffective for you or the dose inadequate; there may not have been enough time to see an effect, or the side effects could be too bothersome -- leading to a failure of treatment.

Depressed mood can be the result of a number of infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, neurological conditions[18] and physiological problems, including hypoandrogenism (in men), Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome, hypothyroidism, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, stroke,[19] diabetes,[20] and cancer.[21]
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.
An external event often seems to initiate an episode of depression. Thus, a serious loss, chronic illness, difficult relationship, exposure to abuse, neglect or community violence, financial problem, or any negative life events or unwelcome changes in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode and chronic exposure to such negative factors can result in persistent depression. People exposed to numerous and/or severe stressors as young children may develop changes in their brain structure that may make them prone to developing depression during adulthood.
Although many people are fearful of ECT, this technique is arguably the safest and most effective medical treatment for severe depression although there can be some memory related side effects. ECT is more rapid in its effect than antidepressant drugs, and CBT and antidepressants remain useful adjuncts to treatment since they can help prevent relapse after ECT is completed.
The signs of high-functioning anxiety and depression can get hidden within seemingly reasonable justifications. Even though one might be holding down a job, going to school, or in a healthy relationship, he or she experiences disruptions in life activities that may not be necessarily obvious. Some of these hidden disruptions can be seen in behaviors such as declining social invitations with the excuse that work has been busy or stressful, sleeping more or sleeping less, and an overreliance on coping mechanisms like excessive exercise, overeating, or overindulging in alcohol or illicit substances.
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.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most widely used class of antidepressants. They work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. Unlike MAOIs and TCAs, SSRIs do not significantly affect norepinephrine levels in the brain. SSRIs also have fewer and milder side effects, fewer drug interactions, and are much less likely to be associated with suicide than TCAs.
It is important to communicate regularly with your doctor when you are taking an antidepressant, especially if you are prescribed any other medications. Keep track of your symptoms so that they can find the best medication for your depression, and also keep track of any side effects you experience. If you’re having trouble finding a medication that works, drug-genetic testing can help your doctor determine appropriate options. If you become pregnant or are breastfeeding, be sure to ask what medication is safest.

The main aim of treatment with antidepressants is to relieve the symptoms of depression, such as feeling very sad and exhausted, and prevent them from coming back. The medications are designed to restore emotional balance and help people to get on with everyday life. They are also taken to relieve symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety, sleep problems and suicidal thoughts.
If your symptoms are mild, tending to ebb and flow between present and absent, or if you have had formal treatment previously and are concerned about relapse, self-help interventions can be a reasonable place to start. These approaches typically involve little to no guidance by a professional. They can include the use of self-help books, electronic applications that adapt evidence-based psychotherapies, or Smartphone programs that offer an easy way to practice skills that target a highly relevant symptom (such as mindfulness meditation for anger or anxiety).​
High-functioning anxiety and depression is treated the same way as other anxiety and depressive disorders, through psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) combined with antidepressants or antianxiety medications can be very effective and shows improved outcomes over treatment that employs only therapy or medication. Residential treatment can also be beneficial for people living with high-functioning anxiety and depression. Residential treatment allows for individuals to get care in a home-like setting, but in a controlled environment away from home, possible triggers, and the rigors of daily life.
There are a lot of different medications for depression. But it's difficult to predict how well a particular medication will help an individual. Because of this, doctors often first suggest taking a drug that they consider to be effective and relatively well tolerated. If it doesn't help as much as expected, it's possible to switch to a different medication. Sometimes a number of different drugs have to be tried out before you find one that works.
Additional medication can also be taken. That might help to relieve the symptoms, but no antidepressant can guarantee that. It can take a long time for a medication to start helping some people. Other people still have symptoms even after trying several different medications. They can then discuss the alternative treatment options with their doctor.

While this newly approved treatment offers hope as a fast acting and durable antidepressant option for patients who have not responded adequately to conventional SSRI or SNRI medications, it is important to be cautious. Many patients may seek out esketamine have not received trials with other evidence-based treatments including pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy or rTMS or ECT. 
Antidepressant medication side effects and drug interactions are barriers to successful treatment for depression. Some side effects of antidepressants resolve with continued use while other side effects can be managed by dose reduction or adding other therapies. Appropriate management of side effects and avoiding drugs and alcohol that may interact with antidepressants may improve the success of depression therapy.
SSRIs relieve symptoms by blocking the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available, which improves mood. SSRIs (citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline) generally produced fewer side effects when compared with tricyclic antidepressants.  However, common side effects include insomnia or sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. They are considered an effective treatment for all anxiety disorders, although the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, typically requires higher doses.
While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular can feel angry and restless. No matter how you experience depression, left untreated it can become a serious health condition. But it’s important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation. There are plenty of powerful self-help steps you can take to lift your mood, overcome depression, and regain your joy of life.
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