Mental health

Depression 101

What is it & how can I get support?  

What is depression?  

Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. If left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who have it and their families. 

What are the symptoms of depression?  

Depression can present different symptoms depending on the person, and change based on how they function day-to-day. Depression symptoms typically last for more than two weeks.  

Common symptoms include:  

  • Loss of energy 
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts  
  • Changes in sleep and/or appetite  
  • Lack of concentration  
  • Physical aches and pains 
  • Suicidal thoughts  

What Causes Depression?  

Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or something else—but it can also occur spontaneously. 

number of factors can contribute to depression; here are just a few:  

  • Trauma - When people experience trauma at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how their brains respond to fear and stress. These changes may lead to depression. 
  • Genetics - Mood disorders, such as depression, tend to run in families. 
  • Life circumstances - Marital status, relationship changes, financial standing and where a person lives influence whether a person develops depression. 


To be diagnosed with depressive disorder, a person must have experienced a depressive episode lasting longer than two weeks. 


If diagnosed with depression, the key is to get a specific evaluation and treatment plan. These are a few treatment plans that one might undergo:   

  • Psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy. 
  • Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications. 
  • Exercise can help with prevention and mild-to-moderate symptoms. 

The NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) can provide information on how to find various mental health professionals and resources in your area.  

 Remember that you are not alone. For more resources and to learn more about depression, visit: