Key Concepts: Dealing with Depression

Imagine for a moment how much more enjoyable and productive life might be in the absence of overwhelming symptoms of depression.

Everyone feels sad or down sometimes. For many people, these feelings will disappear or fade after a few days; however, depression is different. It impacts your daily life, and you can’t simply snap out of it.


Depression looks different for everyone. One person may appear sad or hopeless and another might be persistently irritable and anxious. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) classifies depression as follows:

Major Depressive Disorder

This diagnosis describes a person who experiences severe depressive symptoms that impact his or her daily functioning. Although only one episode is necessary for a diagnosis, a person may have multiple occurrences throughout their lifetime. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, or hopeless
  • Losing interest in once pleasurable activities
  • Lacking energy
  • Feeling guilty and/or worthless
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Increased sleeping or insomnia
  • Contemplating or attempting suicide

Persistent Depressive Disorder

When a person suffers from a depressed mood or symptoms for two or more years they are diagnosed with a persistent depressive disorder. These symptoms may not be as severe as those associated with major depression.


There are times when a person may become depressed without any attributable cause. However, most researchers agree that genetic, environmental, biological, and psychological factors all contribute.


If you or someone you know is struggling with depression consider the following:

✓ Schedule an appointment for a checkup with your primary care provider.

✓ Seek out individual counseling or support groups.

✓ Do your best to be active and exercise.

✓ Make small, attainable goals for yourself.

✓ Try to spend time with others and avoid isolation. Allow others to help you.

✓ Give yourself time and grace. Expect your mood to improve gradually.

✓ Postpone making important life decisions.

✓ Connect with family and friends and share your thoughts, feeling and concerns.

If you’re feeling suicidal, don’t hesitate to call 911, or go to an urgent care center or hospital emergency room for immediate assistance.


You’re not alone, and help is available. Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment will help you overcome. Consider reaching out to your health care provider and engaging other counseling resources for guidance on next steps.

What steps will you take today to be well and live life more fully?

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Related Resources


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Did you know you could have a drinking problem without being an alcoholic? You might not be completely dependent on alcohol, but if you still drink excessively, it can lead to serious problems. About 17 million U.S. adults have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), as well as about 3.4% of teens.

Depression Self-Assessment

Persistent feelings of HELPLESSNESS and HOPELESSNESS signal depression. Everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes. It’s normal to be sad or tired occasionally for unknown reasons. However, clinical depression is much more and tends to affect all areas of one’s life for an extended period of time.