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Everyone feels sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass after a few days. When a person has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a serious illness and most who experience it need treatment to get better.

What are the different forms of depression?

There are several forms of depressive disorder. The most common are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder.

Major depression—severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.

Dysthymic disorder—depressive symptoms that last a long time (2 years or longer) but are less severe than those of major depression.

Minor depression—similar to major depression and dysthymia, but symptoms are less severe and may not last as long.

Postpartum depression—diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Different people have different symptoms. Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating, or not eating at all
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

If you think you have depression, click here for a free and anonymous screening.

How is depression treated?

The first step to getting the right treatment is to visit a doctor or mental health professional. He or she can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. Treatment options include medications and psychotherapy  (sourced from

If your life is being impacted by depression, EAP can help you. EAP is available toll-free 24 hours a day, 1-800-322-5327 or email at or call your family doctor.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly.

  • EAP is available toll-free 24 hours a day, 1-800-322-5327 or email at
  • Or call your doctor.
  • Call 911 for the nearest emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
  • Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Helpful Resources:

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Medline Plus
Senior Health and Depression-National Institutes of Health
Maternal Depression-Health Resources and Services Administration
Families for Depression Awareness 
DBSA - Depression Bipolar Support Alliance  
Accomodation Ideas for those with Depression - Job Accommodation Network (JAN)