Depression – What Causes It and How to Get Help


Depression is a common mental illness that affects your mood. It can make you feel sad and hopeless and lose interest in things that you usually enjoy. It can also cause you to have trouble thinking clearly and feeling physically tired all the time. If you’re depressed, it’s important to seek treatment so you can get better. Depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. Between 80% and 90% of people who get treatment recover fully.

Depression can be caused by many things, including genetics, life events, stress, medications and more. It’s also more common in women than men and in teens than in younger adults. Having family members who have suffered from depression may increase your risk of developing it yourself. It’s important to reach out to your friends and family during tough times, and to get treatment as soon as possible.

If you’re concerned about your mood, talk to a friend or loved one, a health care provider or a faith leader who can help. If you think that you’re suicidal, call 911 in the United States or your local emergency number right away.

A health care professional will do a thorough evaluation, and may ask questions about your symptoms and when they started. They’ll do a physical exam and may order blood tests to check for underlying medical problems that could be causing your depression. They’ll also explore your family history and cultural and environmental factors.

Some experts believe that depression is caused by low levels of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that communicate between nerve cells. But more recent research has shown that other things are probably involved as well. For example, a study published in 2022 in Molecular Psychiatry found that depression can be caused by changes to the way nerve cell connections are formed or how neurons work together.

Your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes, talking therapies or medicine to treat depression. If your depression is mild, they might let it improve on its own while monitoring your progress (called watchful waiting). If yours is moderate to severe, they’ll probably prescribe some kind of antidepressant. They might also recommend psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” helps you deal with difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s often combined with other treatments, such as exercise, a healthy diet and sleep habits and social support from family or friends. They might also recommend group therapy to connect you with other people who have the same condition.

Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to prevent, detect or treat diseases and conditions, such as depression. They are an essential part of how medical science advances. You might be able to participate in a trial that offers new treatment options for you, but it’s important to talk with your health care provider before doing so. They can explain the benefits and risks of clinical trials and whether they’re appropriate for you.