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What is Depression?

Sep 22, 2020

Depression is a mental health condition that affects 7% of adults in the United States. It’s a mood disorder that can negatively impact your thinking, emotions, and behavior. Depression is more than sadness. It’s persistent changes in mood that impact your ability to do day-to-day activities.

The good news is that depression is treatable. Different types of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can all be used to manage your depression and help you function normally. 


Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. Here are signs that you may be experiencing depression:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Having difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Increased anger or frustration
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide

When symptoms of depression persist for at least two weeks and start to affect your day-to-day life, it may be time to get help. Seeking treatment early can be especially effective to help you feel better.

What Causes Depression?

Depression can be caused by a variety of different factors. 

Brain chemistry – Changes in chemicals in the brain can cause symptoms of depression. 

Genetics – As with many other medical conditions, depression can run in a family. 

Environmental factors – major life changes, substance abuse, or exposure to trauma can increase your vulnerability to developing depression.

It’s important to remember that depression is not your fault, and isn’t a hopeless situation. People can and do get better.

How is Depression Treated?

The good news is that a high percentage of people with depression respond positively to treatment. Different types of treatment can work better for different people, and it may take time to determine what works best for you. Here are some of the most common types of treatment for depression.

Psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy can be helpful in relieving symptoms of depression. There are many different types of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can help you identify harmful thoughts or behaviors, learn positive coping skills, and decrease your symptoms.

Medication. Antidepressants are medications that are commonly used to treat depression. You may need to try different medications and doses to determine what works best for you.  Antidepressants can take 2-4 weeks to start to relieve symptoms. It’s important to not stop taking your medications without the help of your doctor.

Brain Stimulation Therapies. For severe cases of depression, if you are unable to take medication, or if medication and therapy aren’t working for you, a provider may recommend a type of brain stimulation therapy. These therapies, such as Electroconvulsive Therapy, can be effective.  

Your provider may recommend other activities or lifestyle changes that can work alongside other treatments to help you manage your symptoms. These can include regular exercise, healthy eating, joining a support group, participating in social activities, or journaling.

How to Get Help

If you have signs or symptoms of depression or mental illness, reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional. Seeking treatment can be an important step towards feeling better. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, call 911 immediately or connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you’re concerned someone you know is struggling with depression, learn ways you can help them. 

Guild Can Help

At Guild, we know that depression can and does get better with treatment. If you are looking for services and resources related to depression or experiencing a mental health crisis, Guild can help. Our Community Access team can discuss your situation and determine your eligibility for Guild services or other state resources. Call us at 651-925-8490 to get on the road to recovery today.



Mental Health by the Numbers, National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Depression, National Institute of Mental Health. 

Depression, Mayo Clinic. 

Depression Diagnosis and Treatment, Mayo Clinic. 

Depression, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Depression Treatment, National Alliance on Mental Illness

What is Depression? American Psychiatric Association.

Psychotherapy, National Alliance on Mental Illness.