More than "Just the Blues"

What causes depression?

Medical research has shown that depression is related to a chemical imbalance of the substances called neurotransmitters that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain.

Life difficulties also contribute to the onset of depression. These can result from difficulties in relationships, trauma, academic stress, a series of disappointments or separation from those you love.

Symptoms of Depression:

The tell-tale symptoms are (1) a sad, anxious, or empty mood that lasts for 2 weeks or more; or (2) loss of interest or pleasure in most activities you once enjoyed. A person with depression also has several or all of these additional symptoms:

  •  Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt
  • Significant change in weight or appetite
  • Changes in sleep habits(such as insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, feeling “slowed down.”
  • Agitation, restlessness, irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Many people with depression experience anxiety symptoms- such as agitation difficulty sleeping, and excessive worry.

Treatment for Depression:

The most common approaches for treating depression are therapy (also called counseling), antidepressant medication, or a combination of the two.

Talking with a therapist can give you valuable support and advice. A therapist is a medical professional trained to help people understand psychological illnesses and learn how to deal with them.

Antidepressant medication aids in correcting the chemical imbalance associated with depression. The most commonly prescribed antidepressant are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

Note: The Mount Holyoke College Counseling Service offers both therapy and medication. Our services are free and confidential. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call the Counseling Service at X2037.

National Institute on Mental Health