Depression – What is it?

Depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. Clinical depression is a common but serious illness that affects a person’s mind and body. It has the potential to impair all aspects of life including eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and how a person thinks and feels about themselves. If those suffering from a depressive illness do not receive appropriate treatment, their symptoms can persist for weeks, months, or years.

Although many people that experience a depressive illness never seek help the majority of them, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. It is imperative to treat symptoms early and fully to disrupt the otherwise inevitable changes that the illness will cause to the brain and overall general health of the individual.


It is a common belief that depressive illnesses result from chemical imbalances in the brain. While this is certainly a part of the equation, it does not accurately capture the complexity of the illness. In addition to chemical imbalances, it is now believed that depression can be caused by a combination of biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. As such, it is often best treated by variety of interventions including medications, psychotherapy, exercise, and new treatments including rTMS.

Signs & Symptoms

Each person is a unique individual and those with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The following is a list of the most common symptoms reported by those suffering from a depressive illness. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.

depressed-manSigns and symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment.