Depression is a term that can describe a normal human emotion. It is also the name of a debilitating emotional syndrome in which victims moods are seriously disturbed for at least two weeks. Suicide, the most serious result of depression, is the 10th leading cause of death in America and the third leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 24. Depression can be triggered or aggravated by any number of external or internal factors, such as personal tragedy or a chemical imbalance.


In addition to feelings of sadness, hopelessness and irritability, depression includes at least four of these symptoms:

  • Noticeable change of appetite with either significant weight loss when not dieting – or weight gain.
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Loss of interest in activities formerly enjoyed.
  • Loss of energy, fatigue.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, feelings of inappropriate guilt.
  • Inability to concentrate or think, indecisiveness.
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, attempting suicide.

Depression can appear at any age, even in infants. In young people, depression is likely to be indicated by poor school work, rebelliousness, bursts of activity, drug and alcohol abuse and running away.

Scientists estimate that more than half of those who have had one episode of major depression will have another.


Treatment for depression may be as diverse as the forms and severity the depression itself presents. Outpatient therapy, day treatment and intense inpatient hospitalization are all settings in which depression may be effectively treated. Treatment may include individual therapy, occupational therapy, group therapy, recreational therapy, medications, and increased socialization.

Treatment goals include preventing the patient from harming himself; addressing his biological needs for nutrition, rest and sleep; orienting the person to reality; developing or increasing feelings of self-worth; resolving internal conflict; increasing ability to cope with anxiety and stress; and ability to deal with feelings. The ultimate treatment objective is to return the person to full functioning in the home, work and community environments.

For More Information

If you would like more information about depression or other topics, please contact New Horizons Counseling Center at (815) 235-6171.