Depression is a common and serious medical illness that affects nearly one in six people at some point in their lives. Clinically known as major depressive disorder, it affects how people feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It causes people feelings of sadness and or loss of interest or pleasure in activities they once enjoyed.


  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Changes in appetite, weight loss or gain not related to dieting
  • Difficulty in concentration, remembering things or making decisions
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, even with small tasks
  • Thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide or suicide attempts

Risk factors:

  • Genetics Depression can run in families
  • Personality – People with low self-esteem or are easily overwhelmed with stress
  • Biochemistry – Differences in certain brain chemicals may contribute to depression
  • Environmental factors – Exposure to violence, abuse, or poverty may make people more vulnerable to depression

For many people with depression, symptoms are usually enough to cause problems in day-to-day activities, such as school, work, relationships, and social activities. Some people may feel generally unhappy or miserable without really knowing why.

Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional will conduct a thorough evaluation, interview, possibly a physical exam and, in some cases, draw blood to make sure that depression is not due to a medical condition.

Treatment and therapy:

  • Medication (antidepressants) – Can be prescribed to help modify brain chemistry and may factor into treatment.
  • Psychotherapy – Called “talk therapy” is sometimes used alone or along with antidepressant medications.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) – A treatment most commonly used for patients with severe major depressive or bipolar disorder. This treatment involves a brief electrical stimulation to the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Depression is a real illness and help is available. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people will overcome their depression.

To find out more about therapy and treatment for depression at NH Hospital in Houston, call (281) 397-1530.