What is depression?

Depression is a serious psychiatric condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior.

Below are common symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling sad or down most of the day, nearly every day
  • Loss of interest in things that you normally enjoy (e.g., hobbies, work, sex)
  • Appetite changes (e.g., loss of appetite or a significant increase in appetite)
  • Feeling like your movements are slower than normal, or that your arms or legs are heavier than normal, or feeling more restless or fidgety than usual
  • Decreased energy or motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks or activities or difficulty making decisions
  • Major changes in sleep patterns (sleeping two hours more or less than normal)
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, wishing you were dead, or thoughts about suicide

Depression can manifest itself in different ways:

  • Major Depressive Disorder is a disorder in which a person has at least one (but typically more than one) episode of depression characterized by at least five of the symptoms above lasting for at least two weeks.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (or Dysthymia) is a long-lasting form of depression in which the symptoms are not severe enough to meet the criteria for major depression but last for years at a time.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depressive disorder in which depressive episodes occur at specific times during the year, typically in the fall and winter seasons as the amount of daily sunlight decreases.
  • Postpartum Depression is a term used to describe depression that occurs in women who have a depressive episode that begins shortly after (usually within one month of) childbirth.


Want to learn more about depression?


UM Depression Toolkit
A mental health resource database designed by CAPS.

A mental health resource database designed by CAPS.

DBSA Alliance
DBSA is a national organization whose mission is to “provide hope, help, and support to improve the lives of people living with depression or bipolar disorder.” Their website provides information on mood disorders and places to find support.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI is a mental health advocacy organization. Its goals include offering hope, reform, and health to the American community by providing education, support, and advocacy. The NAMI website has information on a wide range of mental illnesses, medications, and support resources.


Depression Sourcebook: Health Reference Series, 3rd Edition by Amy Sutton, 2012
This book contains basic consumer health information about the symptoms, causes, and types of depression.

Beating Depression: The Journey to Hope by Jackson-Triche Maga, 2009
This books provides up to date information on the causes of depression and the currently available treatments, including medications and psychotherapy.

Positive Options for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Self-Help Treatment by Fiona Marshall, 2004
Provides information about Seasonal Affective Disorder and describes treatments and self-help strategies.

Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder by Norman Rosenthal, 2006
Dr. Rosenthal’s guide provides information on the various degrees that SAD can manifest itself, and on remedies including light therapy, diet, and medication.

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields, 2005
In this memoir, Brooke Shields shares her experience and recovery with postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression Demystified: An Essential Guide to Understanding and Overcoming the Most Common Complication After Childbirth by Joyce Venis, 2007
Sufferers of postpartum depression themselves, the authors share their personal stories and cover issues such as symptoms, accurate diagnosis, treatment, and family support.

Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength by Ronald Seigel, 2013
This book provides authoritative guidance for cultivating your own happiness and sense of well-being through gratitude, mindfulness, and your own unique strengths.

The Noonday Demon– An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon, 2001
Author Andrew Solomon combines the story of his own struggles with depression and a thorough examination of the illness in cultural and scientific terms.

College of the Overwhelmed by Richard Kadison, 2004
This book is written as a guide for students, parents, and others that work with them. It explores the many different stress factors college students face that cause so many of them to suffer from mental illnesses. It also offers some tips for helping students beat stress, and succeed in the college setting.

For additional treatment and support options, see our find treatment services section or our support resources section.


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