Depression is a common illness that affects 5-8% of the population. 10% of men and
20% of women will suffer from depression at some point during their life. Depression is
an illness that is more than feeling sad or lonely. Depression persists and impairs a
person’s ability to function normally. Luckily, depression is treatable.
What causes Depression?
The specific cause of depression is unknown, but it is caused by many factors, including
genetics and the environment. Depression can come on quickly, or it can come on slowly
over a number of months or years. Scientists believe changes in the brain occur that
upset the balance of brain chemical messengers, causing symptoms.
Symptoms of Depression
• Constant sad, anxious or “empty” mood
• Loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Sleeping too much or too little; waking up in the middle of the night or early
• Being restless, being irritable
• Feeling tired or loss of energy
• Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
• Decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide
Having 5 or more of these symptoms for two weeks or more may point to depression.
See your doctor or a counselor for help.
How depression is treated
Depression is treated 3 possible ways:
• ANTI-DEPRESSANT medications restore the balance of certain chemicals in the
brain. There are many different types of anti-depressants. Your doctor will help
you find a medication that will work best for you. It is important to know that
anti-depressants take up to 6-8 weeks to work well. You need to take anti-
depressants for an extended time (usually 6-8 months) in order to treat depression.
It is important to continue taking your medication even after you feel better to get
the most benefit.
• PSYCHOTHERAPY involves seeing a psychologist or counselor to work through
your personal struggles. This talk therapy also helps you change the negative
thoughts and behaviors that worsen depression.
• A COMBINATION OF ANTI-DEPRESSANTS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
works better than either one alone.
Talk with your doctor or counselor about the types of therapies that will work best for
What to do if I or someone I know may have depression?
If you or someone you know is thinking about harming themselves or others you must get
help IMMEDIATELY (see below for information).
If you have depression, see your doctor for treatment. Also, set reasonable goals for
yourself that you can achieve. Call or meet someone so you are not alone. Remember
that depression takes time to treat; your mood will improve over time.
If someone you know has depression, help them find treatment. Be supportive by
listening to them talk and spending time with them. Be patient, treatment for depression
takes time, but over time their mood will improve.
Places to contact if there is an emergency
Twin Cities Crisis Line: 612-379-6363 or toll-free in MN: 1-866-379-6367
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Emergency Room, Hospital, or Doctor
For more information
Ask your doctor about any questions or concerns you have or look at the following
National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm
Mental Health America: http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/depression
National Alliance on Mental Health: http://www.nami.org