What is depression?

Stress, life changes, lack of sleep, use of substances or chronic financial or relationship problems can significantly contribute to bringing on a depressive episode.

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself and the way a person perceives things.

Not a sign of personal weakness

A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive disorder cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years.

Women experience depression about twice as often as men, often because of hormonal changes. Men’s depression is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours. Depression typically shows up in men not as feeling hopeless and helpless, but as being irritable, angry, and may be more difficult to recognize as such in men. Although men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, 6 million men in the United States are affected by depression. Men are less likely to admit to depression and doctors are less likely to suspect it. The rate of suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women attempt it.

A major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms (see symptom list) that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.

A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep a person from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder. There is a separate section in this website for this one, we invite you to read through it and look at the signs and symptoms.

If you are depressed, seeking treatment in the form of psychotherapy is your first step in getting better. You will feel better and you will move on from this to a stronger, healthier place.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all activities that once were enjoyable.
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, or restlessness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Persistent sad or anxious mood, feeling “empty” or irritable.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Insomnia or sleeping all the time.
  • Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain.
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

contact us

Take the step to a better tomorrow. Click below to email us and set up an appointment.


Mark Blough, Psy.D


Kathy Blough, Psy.S  
Psychotherapist & Holistic Health Counselor


Address:2350 Washtenaw
Suite 8
Ann Arbor, MI 48104