What is Depression and How Do I Know If I Have It?

What is Depression and How Do I Know If I Have It?

Cindy J. Aaronson, PhD

Cindy J. Aaronson, PhD

Dr. Aaronson joined ADAA in 2004 and after serving on the membership and conference committees, was elected to the Board of Directors in 2013. She served as Board Secretary until 2016 and has been actively involved in ADAA in numerous ways including co-chairing the 2020/21 conference. 

At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, she teaches medical students Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) through a Mount Sinai program at a clinic in East Harlem. The clinic treats uninsured, often undocumented, individuals in the area in need of care, receiving both medical and psychiatric treatment by volunteer medical students under the supervision of attending physicians. She also supervises resident psychiatrists and psychology interns on their clinical CBT cases.

Dr. Aaronson’s clinical interests include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression.  Her previous research involved developing new types of treatment interventions for PTSD, depression, and interventions to encourage initiation of and adherence to hepatitis C medication treatment. She was also involved in a study using an internet-based intervention for PTSD in police first-responders to 9/11.

During the pandemic, Dr. Aaronson assisted Mount Sinai in starting a mental health healthcare program conducted by social workers for the faculty and staff of Mount Sinai. Trained didactically, she supervised the clinicians whose work was focused on using CBT for anxiety and depression, as well as burn-out.

Member Affiliations:

  • Member and Secretary, Board of Directors, ADAA 2013-2016
  • Member, Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy 
  • Member, Academy of Cognitive Therapy
  • Member, NYC-CBT
     

What is Depression and How Do I Know If I Have It?

Share
No
what is depression and do I have it

Reviewed October 2020

Everyone has bad days when things just aren’t going well and we just feel off. This can be in response to some bad news like getting a grade that is less than stellar or your friends are too busy to hang out. Sometimes when we find our bad day seems to last day after day, then that may mean something else is going on.

Depression is a term that covers a great deal of meanings and references. In economics, depression refers to a “sustained, long-term, downturn in economic activity in one or more economies.” In kinesiology, depression is “an anatomical term of motion that refers to downward movement, the opposite of elevation.” In weather, depression refers to “an area of low atmospheric pressure characterized by rain and unstable weather.” In terms of mood, depression refers to a sustained mood that is low, sad, down, blue. When the mood continues for two weeks or more and occurs for most of the day that may indicate an illness called major depression.

In addition to the persistent down or low mood, major depression also includes a change in interest or lack of pleasure in usually enjoyed activities where the individual just doesn’t feel like going out with friends, going to parties or even eating favorite foods (they just don’t taste as good anymore). Sleep is often altered or changed, like having trouble falling asleep, waking up one or more times in the night or awakening a few hours before normal and not being able to fall back to sleep. It can also include the opposite—sleeping more than usual. Frequently someone who is depressed also feels tired, exhausted or has no energy, stating that it’s hard just to get up at times and move. S/he may find his/her concentration is off, what used to be easy becomes difficult, like reading, following conversations or the plot of a movie.

When the mood is low it can color lots of perceptions, including feelings about ourselves, making us feels less than or even worthless. Sometimes depressed people find their thoughts focused on past mistakes or bad experiences that they usually don’t think about or haven’t thought about for a long time which may create lots of guilt and shame. It’s not too difficult to follow that thought path down to the point where the person thinks about dying, wishing s/he were dead or thinking about ending his/her life.

The good news is that this condition is temporary and very treatable. There several effective treatments for depression including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), behavioral activation (BA), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and antidepressant medication. Find more information about these treatments on the ADAA website as well as how to find a clinician who can practice any of those therapies. Everyone has down periods, but if yours goes on and on, it may be time to get some help.

Cindy J. Aaronson, PhD

Cindy J. Aaronson, PhD

Dr. Aaronson joined ADAA in 2004 and after serving on the membership and conference committees, was elected to the Board of Directors in 2013. She served as Board Secretary until 2016 and has been actively involved in ADAA in numerous ways including co-chairing the 2020/21 conference. 

At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, she teaches medical students Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) through a Mount Sinai program at a clinic in East Harlem. The clinic treats uninsured, often undocumented, individuals in the area in need of care, receiving both medical and psychiatric treatment by volunteer medical students under the supervision of attending physicians. She also supervises resident psychiatrists and psychology interns on their clinical CBT cases.

Dr. Aaronson’s clinical interests include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression.  Her previous research involved developing new types of treatment interventions for PTSD, depression, and interventions to encourage initiation of and adherence to hepatitis C medication treatment. She was also involved in a study using an internet-based intervention for PTSD in police first-responders to 9/11.

During the pandemic, Dr. Aaronson assisted Mount Sinai in starting a mental health healthcare program conducted by social workers for the faculty and staff of Mount Sinai. Trained didactically, she supervised the clinicians whose work was focused on using CBT for anxiety and depression, as well as burn-out.

Member Affiliations:

  • Member and Secretary, Board of Directors, ADAA 2013-2016
  • Member, Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy 
  • Member, Academy of Cognitive Therapy
  • Member, NYC-CBT
     
ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA Blog Content and Blog Comments Policy

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at [email protected] and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.

RESOURCES AND NEWS
Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts
RELATED ARTICLES
Block reference
TAKING ACTION

My struggle with depression and anxiety is one I still deal with every day. The hardest part is…