It's more than sadness...

By:Jennifer-Kate Graham


1. To learn about the signs and symptoms of depression.

2. To learn about various treatments for depression.

3. To learn about where one can reach out for help if they know someone who is struggling with depression.


Depression is  a range of mental health problems that can be identified by a loss of interest everyday life, low mood with a variety of emotional and physical symptoms.

Depression can vary by degrees. One example is major depression. However, it can be difficult distinguish between "normal" levels of depression and "clinically significant" depression. In addition to major depression, some other forms of depression include:

Major depression is defined as a severely depressed mood that goes on for two weeks or more, interfering with a person’s daily functions. Other types of depression include:

  • Postpartum depression: This form of depression affects about 10 to 15 percent of women shortly after childbirth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Usually occurs during winter months and is probably caused by lack of natural sunlight.
  • Bipolar disorder: Involves moods that shift between depression and extreme excitability, called mania. Bipolar disorder affects about 2.6 percent of American adults.


The causes of Depression are vast and complicated. There are many theoretical explanations for depression including: biochemical, endocrine, psychological, neurophysiological, and social factors.

Here is a list of more specific factors and causes that could contribute to depression:

  • Social circumstances
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Gender
  • Genetic and family history
  • Poverty
  • Personality


Physical and Behavioral: Individuals may experience tearfulness, social withdrawal, low libido, lack of activity, muscle tensions, anxiety, decreased appetite, and sleep.  

Example: Individual may maintain erratic and abnormal sleeping hours.


  • Family history of depressive illness accounts for around 39% of the variance of depression in both sexes (Kendler et al., 2001)
  • According to depression statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 9 percent of adult Americans have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that could lead to a diagnosis of depression.
  • Women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression sometime during their life (NIMH)



Treatment for Depression can include medication as prescribed by a physician. The majority are Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Other more recent medication include : selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs similar to but different tahn TCAs, like  trazodone.

Alternative Treatment:

In addition to medication, there are many alternative treatments that can help an individual with depression. This includes:

- Physical Activity                                                           -Psychotherapy

-Therapy through Social Media (NPR, 2015)         -Stronger social and family connections

-Dietary and nutritional changes                              -Light Therapy (for SAD)

                                                                         Mini Quiz:

Try to categorize these actions into:

Normal Emotional Sadness              or                Possible Sign of Clinical Depression

- Sandra is upset that her cat passed away.

-Timmy has had a sudden drop in grades in school and has begun to isolate himself.

-Ashley has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.  Her sleep cycle has reversed ans she doesn't think she can "get out of it"

-John is having difficulty in making new friends at school.  Sometimes he has no friends to sit with.

Though all of these treatments can be effective, they will only work if someone takes the first step and asks for help.


Taking those first few steps can be the most challenging step.

If you are suicidal, please call:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  1 (800) 273-8255

For parents:

American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry  :

Depression and Bipolar Support and Alliance :

For Educators (bringing awareness in the classroom):


Iliades, Chris. (2013). Stats and Facts about Depression. Everyday Health.

Kendler KS, Gardner CO, Neale MC, et al. Genetic risk factors for major depression in men and women: similar or different heritabilities and same or partly distinct genes? Psychological Medicine. 2001;31:605–616.

National Public Radio [Internet]. 2015. Improving Mental Health Via Socail Network. Retrieved from:

US National Library of Medicine [Internet]. 2010. Depression. Retrieved from:

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