What is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression can occur at any time, but on average, symptoms tend to first appear during the late teens to mid-20’s. Approximately 1 out of every 6 adults will have depression at some time in their life. Depression has no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries and affects nearly 16 million American adults every year and more than 264 million people globally.

While the exact cause of depression is not known, the leading scientific theory is that it is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells. Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors. In addition, individuals who have gone through adverse life events such as unemployment, bereavement, or psychological trauma, are more likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Depression may cause some individuals to think about hurting themselves or committing suicide. According to the CDC, in 2018, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 48,000 individuals. Globally, nearly 800,000 individuals die from suicide each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.


Symptoms of Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home. Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movement or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observed by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
​Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.

Treatment for Depression

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to treating depression because depression can vary among individuals. Fortunately, there are many available treatment options to manage depressive symptoms. Depression is generally treated with antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both; however, and alternative non-drug treatment option is available. Antidepressant medications are designed to change chemicals in the brain that affect mood and emotion. Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is the use of psychological methods to help an individual change their behavior by learning about their condition, mood, thoughts, and feelings. TMS Therapy uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate the areas of the brain that are thought to function differently in patients with depression. The magnetic field produces an electric current in the brain that stimulates the brain cells (neurons). This results in changes in the brain that are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of depression.