Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of 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 common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get better. The good news is that depression, even the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder.
You may be wondering if you have symptoms of Depression. One way of determining that is to take a brief confidential and anonymous screen. Only you will see the results of the brief screen. None of the results are stored or sent anywhere. You can choose to print a copy of the results for your own records or to give to your physician or a mental health professional.
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please call the Veterans Crisis line 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or visit their website at www.veteranscrisisline.net/.
VA Programs & Services
A number of depression treatments are available. Medication and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) are very effective for most people. There are also many types of professionals who treat depression. A good place to start is with your primary care physician. In some cases, a primary care physician can prescribe medication to relieve depression symptoms. However, if treatment by your physician does not help you, the next step is to see a mental health professional.
In addition to medications, psychotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of depression. In fact, evidence-based psychotherapies are among the most effective treatments for depression. The following evidence-based psychotherapies have been found to be effective in treating depression. One or more of them can be found at your local VA Medical Center.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-D)
CBT is a structured, time-limited psychotherapy that helps individuals develop more balanced and helpful thoughts about themselves, others, and the future. CBT also helps individuals spend more time engaging in pleasurable or productive activities. CBT helps individuals to achieve personal goals and solve problems by learning and practicing new skills.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT-D)
ACT is a psychotherapy based on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which help individuals overcome their struggle with emotional pain and worry by encouraging them to take active steps to move forward. ACT helps individuals recognize, commit to, and achieve what matters most to them in life.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is a treatment for depression that focuses on the relationships that may be the cause or the result of depression. IPT helps individuals to understand the connection between their depression and current relationship problems. It also helps individuals build social skills to deal better with problems. This helps to improve how someone feels as well and the quality of their life.
Make the Connection
MakeTheConnection.net: Visit this site to view hundreds of stories from Veterans of all service eras who have overcome mental health challenges. MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where Veterans and their families and friends can privately explore information on mental health issues, hear fellow Veterans and their families share their stories of resilience, and easily find and access the support and resources they need.
Watch video testimonials from Veterans who have found ways to manage depression, and to learn more about depression, its symptoms, and treatment.
Articles & Fact Sheets
- What is Major Depression?: A VA Fact Sheet providing information on: basic facts, symptoms, treatments, and information for families (2011).
- Depression After Brain Injury: A guide for patients and their caregivers from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
- Depression: A detailed booklet with information on symptoms, causes, treatments, getting help and coping (2007).
- Depression (Easy to Read): An easy-to-read booklet that explains what depression is, how long it lasts and how to get help (2007).
- Older Adults and Depression: A brief statistical fact sheet on depression and suicide in older adults, with information on treatments and suicide prevention (2003).
- Late Life Depression: According to the VA’s National Registry for Depression, 11% of Veterans aged 65 years and older have a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a rate more than twice that found in the general population of adults aged 65 and older.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as “winter depression,” is not pure seasonal depression, but seasonal worsening of pre-existing depression. It is defined as “recurring depression with seasonal onset and remission,” mostly affecting people who already have depression.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Depression: A grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Provides information on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and more.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - Depression: A national organization whose mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. Provides information on signs, symptoms, treatment, clinical trials and more.
- Mental Health America (MHA) - Depression: A nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. Provides a number of factsheets on depression such as: Depression: What You Need to Know and Signs of Depression Checklist.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – Depression: A national organization focusing on the most prevalent mental illnesses. Provides information on symptoms and types of depression, as well as a few brochures such as: Myths and Facts about Depression and Bipolar Disorder.