Depression is a complex and debilitating mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch; depression is a serious medical illness that impacts one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and can negatively impact a person’s overall quality of life. If you believe you may have a form of depression or have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, you may be feeling worried and even a bit scared and unsure of your next steps.

The first thing you should know is that depression is a real issue – it’s not just something “in your head” or something you can get over without proper help and treatment. The good news is that several different treatment options can help you regain control of your symptoms and live a normal life. But what exactly is depression, what causes it, and is there a way to achieve remission? Keep reading to get the answers to these questions and see how new cutting-edge alternative treatments are helping countless depression patients across the country.

What is Depression?

Depression is described as a mood disorder in which patients often experience a variety of negative symptoms, such as persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, leading to various emotional and physical problems. Depression can occur as a single episode or recur throughout a person’s life, and it is considered a chronic disease.

Clinical depression, like many mental health disorders, does not have a single, straightforward cause. Instead, it is suspected to result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Specialists are still trying to learn more about how these factors in order to gain insights into why some individuals develop depression while others do not.

Research suggests that genetics may play a significant role in predisposing individuals to depression. Studies have found that individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has experienced depression may be two to three times more likely to develop the condition themselves. Biological factors are also thought to play a role in this process. More specifically, certain imbalances in neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that facilitate communication between brain cells, have been implicated in depression. Specifically, deficiencies in serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are thought to contribute to mood disturbances and depressive symptoms.

Environmental factors in the form of adverse life events, such as trauma, abuse, loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, or chronic stress, as well as ongoing exposure to environmental stressors, such as discrimination, social isolation, or a lack of social support, can likely increase the risk of developing depression.

In addition, certain psychological factors such as individual personality traits, coping styles, and underlying psychological vulnerabilities may also make an individual more prone to developing depression as a response to stressors. For example, individuals with low self-esteem, perfectionistic tendencies, or a history of negative thinking patterns may be more susceptible to developing depression.

Depression is a highly individualized experience, and what triggers or exacerbates symptoms in one person may not affect another in the same way. Additionally, the interplay of these factors can vary widely among individuals, making it challenging for medical professionals and researchers to pinpoint a single cause of depression.

How Common is Depression Around the World?

Depression is a common mental health issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds worldwide. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 280 million people globally. This represents approximately 3.8% of the global population. Depression is not limited to any specific geographic region or socioeconomic status; it is a widespread concern that impacts individuals in both developed and developing countries.

Furthermore, the number and frequency of depression cases seem to be increasing worldwide, with factors such as urbanization, economic instability, and social inequality possibly contributing to its rise. As common and impactful as depression may be, it remains underdiagnosed and undertreated in many parts of the world, possibly because of stigma, lack of access to mental health services, and misconceptions about depression that often prevent individuals from seeking help or receiving appropriate treatment. The truth is there is no shame in seeking help for your depression. Many others are struggling with the same debilitating symptoms, and many different treatment options available to help you.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression can vary in severity and duration and can affect an individual both mentally and physically. Common depression symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness: feeling sad, empty, or tearful most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure: losing interest in activities, hobbies, or relationships that were once enjoyable.
  • Changes in appetite or weight: significant weight loss or weight gain or changes in appetite.
  • Sleep disturbances: insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy: feeling tired, sluggish, or physically drained even after rest.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: experiencing persistent feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions: trouble focusing, remembering details, or making decisions.
  • Agitation or restlessness: feeling restless, irritable, or on edge.
  • Physical symptoms: persistent headaches, digestive problems, or other unexplained physical ailments.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide: recurrent thoughts of death, dying, suicide, or suicide attempts.

If you struggle with any or all of these symptoms and have not yet been diagnosed with depression, it may be a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional about what you are experiencing. Depressive disorders present themselves differently in every individual, so even if some of these symptoms do not sound familiar to you, it is still important to get properly evaluated by a doctor.

Are There Different Types of Depression?

Depression is an informal term to refer to a wide variety of depressive disorders that can manifest in various forms, each with its own set of symptoms and characteristics. Some common types of depression include:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): This is the most common form of depression, characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Formerly known as dysthymia, PDD involves chronic low-grade depression lasting for two years or more.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, typically during the winter months when there is less sunlight.
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD): PPD is a mood disorder that affects women after childbirth and is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder involves alternating periods of depression and mania (elevated mood), with depressive episodes lasting for weeks or months.
  • Psychotic Depression: This type of depression occurs alongside psychosis, which may involve hallucinations, delusions, or other breaks from reality.

Can Depression Co-occur with Other Mental Health Issues?

A group of medical professionals recently conducted a study among the German population to determine the prevalence of the occurrence of depression alongside other somatic (physical) and mental conditions. The study found that almost all mental disorders were at least twice as prevalent in persons with depression when compared to their control group results. Their study also found significant links between the occurrence of depression and diseases such as multiple sclerosis and several neurological diseases, including sleep disorders, migraine, and epilepsy, with patients in these groups showing depression comorbidity prevalence rates 1.5 to 2 times higher than the control group.

In other words, it is a known fact that depression often co-occurs with other mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders. This phenomenon, known as comorbidity, can complicate diagnosis and treatment, as symptoms of one disorder may overlap with or exacerbate symptoms of another.

What are the Traditional Treatment Options for Depression?

Traditional treatment options for depression typically involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy aims to help individuals understand and manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Many depressed patients participate in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is thought to be particularly effective for depression, as it focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and developing coping skills.

Antidepressants work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain, specifically serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are among the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. While some individuals can experience symptom relief with traditional treatments such as therapy and medications, research has shown that more than one-third of patients with major depressive disorder become treatment-resistant and continue struggling with depressive symptoms in spite of receiving medication and therapy. In these cases, patients may benefit from combining their traditional treatment approach with other treatments and strategies that may help them alleviate symptoms and, in many cases, achieve remission.

How Can Depression Be Managed?

Managing depression usually requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the psychological and physiological aspects of the condition. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are a variety of strategies that may help individuals cope with depression.

  • Consulting a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, is extremely important so you can obtain personalized treatment and support.
  • Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • Medication combined with psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a widely used approach to treat the symptoms of depression. Therapy such as Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) can help patients with depressive disorders to explore their thought patterns and feelings in a supportive environment.
  • Social support can also be incredibly helpful – building a strong support network of family and friends or finding support groups for depressive disorders can all provide emotional support and encouragement, which may be critical during difficult days.
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs can help improve mood and overall well-being.

However, it is true that many people still struggle with depression, even after following all of these tips. If you or someone you love has already tried medication, therapy, and other strategies to manage the symptoms of depression and still struggle to find relief, you are not alone. At APN, many patients with treatment-resistant depressive disorders have found the relief they are looking for through the use of an integrated treatment approach.

A Promising Solution for Treatment-Resistant Depression

APN’s integrated treatment approach has the goal of treating the root causes of depression in each person, seeking to promote immediate relief as well as long-term remission of depression symptoms. Our mental health professionals design custom treatment plans for each individual. Cutting-edge techniques such as Deep TMS and Ketamine-assisted therapy can be added to a traditional medication and therapy regime to help patients experience a significant reduction in the intensity and duration of their symptoms.

Deep TMS is a non-invasive, pharmaceutical-free procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS has shown promising results, with approximately 50-60% of patients experiencing a significant reduction in their symptoms and many achieving full remission. Likewise, ketamine-assisted therapy has also been shown to be successful in helping depression patients reach immediate relief and become symptom-free for up to 6 months after completing treatments.

The bottom line is that while depression is a chronic condition without any known cure, it is possible to control your depression symptoms and live a normal life. You do not need to struggle alone. Contact APN to discover how our integrated treatment approaches can help you find the relief you need. Call 424.644.6486 or fill out our online contact form to learn more.


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  • Souery, Daniel, et al. Treatment-Resistant Depression, Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Steffen, A., Nübel, J., Jacobi, F. et al. Mental and somatic comorbidity of depression: a comprehensive cross-sectional analysis of 202 diagnosis groups using German nationwide ambulatory claims data. BMC Psychiatry 20, 142 (2020).