Let's Talk About Depression

We've got the doctor-approved details on depression causes, symptoms, treatments, and a jillion other tips that can make life with depression a little bit easier—and hopefully, eventually, happier.

    Our Pro PanelDepression

    We asked some of the nation's top depression experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.Chief Medical Officer of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences

    Dell Medical School, The University of Texas
    Austin, TX
    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.

    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.Director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry

    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
    Baltimore, MD
    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.

    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.Psychiatrist, Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Well-Being in the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    The Bronx, NY
    Depression statistics including age of diagnosis, percentage who do not receive depression treatment, number of americans who experience depression, chance of having a second depression episode, and depression as the leading cause of disability
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    Common Depression Treatments graphic
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    Frequently Asked QuestionsDepression

    What’s the difference between being sad and being depressed?

    Sadness is a normal reaction to disappointment, bad news, and loss. (Remember when Jaime Lannister left Brienne of Tarth heartbroken to go canoodle with Cersei in King’s Landing?) Sadness and grief eventually let up over time, even after a devastating loss. Depression doesn’t go away, and it interferes with your ability to do what you need to do on a daily basis. Besides a gloomy mood, depressed people have other symptoms like fatigue, apathy, insomnia or too much sleep, noticeable weight change, crying jags, and (sometimes, but not always) thoughts of suicide.

    How long does depression last?

    To meet the clinical definition of a depressive episode, symptoms must last a minimum of two weeks (though research puts the median duration at six months). Chronic depression (aka Persistent Depressive Disorder) lasts a minimum of two years, but often lasts much longer. Depression can hang around forever, especially when left untreated.

    Do I have to see a therapist in real life for depression or can I use an app?

    That depends on the severity of your depression. Meeting with a therapist in person can be inconvenient, nerve-wracking, and just plain awkward. But is it really possible to text your way to better mental health? Experts are torn on the efficacy of virtual mental health apps (a.k.a. telepsychology). Research shows that text therapy like Talkspace, one-on-one chat, or video counseling makes getting help easier than ever, especially for super-busy people, those in rural areas where docs are scarce, or those who fear the stigma of being seen at a mental health office. Many experts caution against virtual therapy for people who are seriously mentally ill, have alcohol or drug addiction, or are at risk of harming themselves or others. In those scenarios, more intensive treatment is required. To find out how to get the most out of virtual therapy, check out the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for telepsychology.

    If someone is depressed will they become suicidal?

    Not necessarily. But they might. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all age groups. Depression can wear on a person’s psyche, making every minute feel like an hour, stealing sleep, and creating a sense of hopelessness. We’re not trying to freak you out, but it’s important to keep an eye open for signs of suicidal ideation, like withdrawing from social life, engaging in uncharacteristically reckless behavior (e.g. drug abuse, speeding, unsafe sex), getting their affairs in order (making a will, giving away prized possessions), or outright saying they want to die (even if it’s in a joking manner). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that around 60% of people who die of suicide have a mood disorder like MDD, Persistent Depressive Disorder, or Bipolar Disorder. If you need help for yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

    Meirav Devash

    Meirav Devash


    Meirav Devash is a writer, editor, and beauty, health, and wellness expert, reporting on topics from mental health to goth fitness and cannabis law.