Understanding depression is the first step to doing something about it.

The things you need to know, made simple and clear.

Topics

The signs and symptons of depression

Different people experience depression in distinct ways. Some feel profound sadness, hopelessness, and low self worth. Many also feel overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out. And some people feel nothing at all.

The signs and symptoms video thumbnail
The core symptoms of depression include:
  • Having little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself or feeling like a failure
  • Trouble concentrating on things
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or being fidgety/restless.
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or thoughts of hurting yourself

Read more

Kay E.

I started feeling depressed about five years ago, but I couldn’t label the depression. I just felt my energy was low, I was sad a lot of the time. And then I think when I realized it was depression was when I felt that I was not able to get out of bed, that I didn’t want to see people – I realized that this was more than just being sad or being low energy.”

A quick assessment can help you evaluate your symptoms and see where you stand

Take the Assessment

The signs and symptoms video thumbnail
Kay E.

I started feeling depressed about five years ago, but I couldn’t label the depression. I just felt my energy was low, I was sad a lot of the time. And then I think when I realized it was depression was when I felt that I was not able to get out of bed, that I didn’t want to see people – I realized that this was more than just being sad or being low energy.”

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression often go together, creating a self-sustaining negative cycle that can be hard to break.

Anxiety and depression video thumbnail
The key symptoms of anxiety include:
  • Excessive anxiety and worry about not just one, but many issues, individuals, or events
  • Difficulty in controlling the feelings of worry, often without control in shifting from one topic to another

At least three additional symptoms from the following list:

  • General restlessness
  • Fatigue or the feeling of being easily tired
  • Difficulty concentrating Trouble sleeping Irritability
  • Muscle aches or soreness
Joseph E.

I can’t do things that I used to do anymore. I don’t like to leave the house, I don’t like to go on buses and things like this because I’m so anxious. And then that wears down on me. And I get so exhausted and just knowing that I can’t function like I used to puts me in this really down mood.”

Read More

Anxiety and depression video thumbnail
Joseph E.

I can’t do things that I used to do anymore. I don’t like to leave the house, I don’t like to go on buses and things like this because I’m so anxious. And then that wears down on me. And I get so exhausted and just knowing that I can’t function like I used to puts me in this really down mood.”

Diagnosing depression

Depression is diagnosed by a doctor looking for the presence of signs and symptoms associated with depression, including the mix and severity of symptoms, context, duration, and life impact.

The doctor will also want to know about your medical history and family history, as well as current medications you are taking.

A brief visit is usually enough to diagnose your depression and determine a treatment plan.

Diagnosing depression video thumbnail

Read more

Annie G.

I was miserable, but I felt like I couldn’t talk about it, because I didn’t think what I was feeling was okay. I didn’t think it was normal. I felt like there was something wrong with me. So I held all of that in.”

Take the Assessment

Diagnosing depression video thumbnail
Annie G.

I was miserable, but I felt like I couldn’t talk about it, because I didn’t think what I was feeling was okay. I didn’t think it was normal. I felt like there was something wrong with me. So I held all of that in.”

Medication for depression

Medication can be an effective part of a treatment plan to help you feel better. It’s important to understand the facts – and the myths – to determine if it may be right for you.

Because there are many forms of depression and each individual is unique, getting the best result requires matching each individual to the right medication, then fine-tuning treatment based on individual response.

Medications that are normally prescribed for first line depression treatment are in a category called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) as well as a few similar types of medication. Common examples include sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro) and bupropion (Wellbutrin).

Medication for depression video thumbnail
There are a lot of misconceptions out there around antidepressants and it’s important to know the facts.
  • There’s no shame in taking antidepressants— around 13% of Americans take them and millions have benefitted from them.
  • Antidepressants are not addictive and can’t be abused. Some do have withdrawal symptoms, meaning you should taper off rather than stop abruptly.
  • Some people worry that using medication to affect their brain chemistry could change their personality or make them “artificially” happy. Antidepressants don’t change who you are – they just help reduce some of the symptoms that are weighing you down, allowing you to really be yourself.
  • The aren’t a miracle cure—they don’t necessarily address some of the reasons you may be feeling depressed in the first place. That’s why they should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes therapy and self care.
Angela B.

After a couple of weeks on the medication my depression/anxiety was drastically reduced and I finally felt like myself again.”

Start with an Assessment

Medication for depression video thumbnail
Angela B.

After a couple of weeks on the medication my depression/anxiety was drastically reduced and I finally felt like myself again.”

Therapy for depression

Therapy can give you the structure and support to help get through difficult issues, including space to reflect, process challenges, and build skills. Therapy is a time-tested approach that’s more accessible than ever, so some form of therapy should be part of any depression care plan.

Therapy for depression video thumbnail
Jen T.

There’s nothing like having therapy and really learning from others who understand this.”

Joseph E.

I know in my mind that this is part of the process for me to heal and try to pinpoint those things that I tell myself, so that I can look at it from a different perspective once it’s happening.”

Natural treatments for depression

Depression is related to a number of physiological processes in the body and brain that are also influenced by the choices we make every day. Changing daily habits can have a big impact on reducing feelings of depression and keeping them away.

In addition to neurotransmitters and neuroplasticity, depression is believed to also be influenced by inflammation, hormones, and chronic stress – systems we know are impacted by everyday behaviors.

Natural treatments for depression video thumbnail
Small steps lead to big improvement (click each topic for more):

Getting care for depression

Sometimes taking the first step can be the most difficult one. But there are multiple ways to get care and you can choose what’s best for you.

Getting care for depression video thumbnail
In person care:
  • If you have health insurance you can visit your doctor or a therapist covered by your insurer. You can find a directory of eligible providers on your insurer’s website.
  • If you do not have insurance, you can get free or low cost help at a community health center. You can find the one closest to you here.
  • You can find a free support group with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance near you here.
Online care:
  • Remote depression care can make it easier to understand what’s happening and get high quality care, without having to go to a doctor’s office
  • For most people, diagnosing and treating depression does not require a physical exam or lab test – it’s based on the feelings, experiences, and history you report
  • Psychiatric providers must be licensed in your state, pass thorough background checks, and comply with the same laws and regulations as in person care
  • Remote psychiatric providers may have access to tools and resources that traditional providers don’t have, such as the ability to monitor your progress more closely and communicate with you more frequently

Depression treatment works and there are a range of options so you can choose what’s right for you. What’s important is finding your path and following through.

Taking an assessment to see where you stand is a great place to start.

Take the Assessment

Depression stories

Real stories from people like you.
Member Spotlight: Chelle’s Story

Member Spotlight: Chelle’s Story

“Mental illness affects people just like me. Mental illness affects people different from me. You can’t just “snap out of it.” And it’s okay.” —Chelle T. A successful entrepreneur and mother of three, Chelle had always dealt with social anxiety—but a painful and ugly divorce threw her deep into a paralyzing depression. She struggled with […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Chelle’s Story
Member Spotlight: Miosoti’s Story

Member Spotlight: Miosoti’s Story

For Miosoti, depression left her feeling lost and caused her to internalize negative emotions. She didn’t want to see friends, wasn’t eating, and wanted to be left alone all the time. Miosoti had struggled with depression for four or five years, but couldn’t afford to keep up with treatment—until she found Brightside. Here is her […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Miosoti’s Story
Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story

Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story

Marnie struggled with depression for years, but it wasn’t until recently that her anxiety symptoms started to pop up in unpleasant ways. When her life began to spin out of control, she knew it was time to seek depression and anxiety treatment. At first, she was reluctant to start treatment, but things have started to […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story
Member Spotlight: Kyle’s Story

Member Spotlight: Kyle’s Story

Kyle, a professional chef, has always loved to cook. However, when he cooked for his girlfriend at home, he would get incredibly self-conscious about how the food tasted. The weight of his depression caused him to second guess his skills and eroded his self-esteem. Kyle struggled with depression for most of his life, but when […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Kyle’s Story
Member Spotlight: Kaitlynn’s Story

Member Spotlight: Kaitlynn’s Story

Kaitlynn’s symptoms of depression and anxiety began in third grade, but a lack of understanding about her feelings and finances kept her from pursuing treatment until college. In college, she had a few false starts when seeking treatment. A few years later, when a new career opportunity presented itself, Kaitlynn knew it was time to […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Kaitlynn’s Story
Member Spotlight: Jacquelyn’s Story

Member Spotlight: Jacquelyn’s Story

For Jacquelyn, a post on social media is what kick-started her mental health journey. For years, she felt as though she was going through the motions, but lacked an internal spark. After seeing a post on social media, she realized her perception of depression was incorrect, and she embarked on her journey to mental wellness. […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Jacquelyn’s Story
Member Spotlight: Bridgett’s Story

Member Spotlight: Bridgett’s Story

Bridgett’s anxiety attacks and sleepless nights began when she was in third grade. After spending her childhood and teenage years struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety, fear of being judged still prevented her from seeking treatment. Another five years passed before she decided to seek treatment. This is Bridgett’s depression and anxiety treatment experience […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Bridgett’s Story
Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story

Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story

“My depression feels like I’m stuck in quicksand trying to get out. My anxiety feels like I’m playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Whenever I squash one obstacle, there is always another waiting for me.” Marnie Perez Ochoa   Every person’s journey with anxiety and depression is unique. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but […]

Read the story

Member Spotlight: Marnie’s Story
“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”

“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”

Christina looked like the girl who should be peppy and fun. In reality, she felt a deep sense of shame and guilt.

Read the story

“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”
“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”

“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”

Annie’s mind was consumed by thoughts of failure, guilt, and worthlessness. In her struggle to connect with and care for her young daughter, she neglected her own needs and kept her torment private, until the shame compounded into something unbearably painful.

Read the story

“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”
“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”

“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”

When you’re deployed, you bury any fear and keep it together, staying focused on the people and the mission. So that’s what Joe did.

Read the story

“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”
“And honestly that changed my life.”

“And honestly that changed my life.”

Over time, Jen’s depression worsened and she began having anxiety and signs of ADHD. To Jen, her depression felt like complete hopelessness.

Read the story

“And honestly that changed my life.”
“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”

“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”

Kenny always felt different – like he didn’t really belong, even in his own family.

Read the story

“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”
741-741

If you’re in emotional distress, text HOME to connect with a counselor immediately.

911

If you’re having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local ER.