What is depression?

We all have times when we feel down or sad. Depression is a feeling of sadness, despair or hopeless that does not go away. In someone with depression, this feeling can last for weeks or months and interfere with the person’s ability to participate in everyday activities. Depression can affect your mood, thoughts, and behaviors. It can also make you feel tired, less or more hungry or unable to sleep. 

People with depression often see the world in a negative light and may:

  • Be critical of themselves, and feel worthless and unloved.
  • Feel overwhelmed by small problems the rest of us take in stride.
  • Want to give up.
  • Pull away from people and drop out of activities

Depression runs in families, but not everyone with a depressed family member becomes depressed. People with no family history of depression also can have depression. Besides life events and family history, other factors that play a role in causing depression include social environment, medical conditions and negative thought patterns.