​Atlanta Psychological Services

Depression is a mental health concern that affects a variety of aspects of an individual’s life. It affects an individual’s mood, energy level, and overall ability to function and cope with daily events. Depression not only affects an individual’s subjective daily experiences, it also can interfere with one’s ability to work, succeed in school, and form healthy relationships. In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of death or suicide attempts.

Depression’s hallmark characteristics are a pervasive depressed or sad mood and lack of interest in activities. Other symptoms can include difficulty concentrating or making decisions, fatigue, changes in appetite (eating too much or too little), trouble sleeping or sleeping much more than usual, feeling worthless or guilty, feeling hopeless, recurrent thoughts about death, difficulty concentrating, isolation and withdrawal, and other symptoms. However, depression effects different people in different ways, and it can appear to be very different in children. In children, depression can be expressed in more outward, externalizing ways, such as aggression, oppositional or defiant behavior, or other acting out behaviors.

same thing. While sadness is a normal reaction to negative life events that passes in time, depression is a pervasive, distressing, debilitating combination of emotional and physiological symptoms. Depression can last for stretches of time ranging from weeks to years.  

Types of Depressive Disorders

Major Depressive Disorder - Major Depressive Disorder is the official title for depressive episodes lasting at least 2 weeks or longer. These episodes interfere with functioning or cause significant distress, and the sufferer feels depressed more often than not during a major depressive episode.

Dysthymic Disorder - Dysthymic Disorder or Dysthymia differs from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in two significant ways. First, the depressed mood or anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable) need only be present 50% of the time, as opposed to most of the day, every day with MDD. Most of the symptoms of Dysthymia and MDD are the same; however, with Dysthymia, hopelessness is a common characteristic, as individuals often lose faith that their depression will ever lift.

A note about Bipolar Disorder - Bipolar Disorder can include periods of major depression, but it differs from the above two diagnoses in that Bipolar Disorder is characterized by discreet periods of excessively elevated mood, energy, or activity and/or irritability that that is not seen in unipolar depression. These periods are known manic episodes.  


Psychotherapy and medication have both shown to be effective in treating depression; however, there are significant advantages to psychotherapy. Medication can be extremely effective in treating the biological aspects of depression in the brain. However, psychotherapy can teach the individual how to process and cope with circumstances in his or her life, as well as helping the client to discover and process the root causes of depression, while learning techniques to manage depression without the need for medication. Thus, while medication can offer relief from the symptoms of depression more quickly than psychotherapy, this relief can disappear when the medication is no longer taken. In contrast, some research has show that individuals who receive psychotherapy can have less relapses of depressive episodes. Research also has shown that treatment success can be greater for individuals who receive both psychotherapy and medication, rather than receiving one form of treatment or the other.

Treatment for depression typically consists of identifying the situations, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that contribute to depression. This may be done through self-reflection, discussions with the therapist, or self-monitoring. Then, the patient learns new, more helpful ways of coping with these situations.

This article is for informational purposes only. Information provided on this web site is not intended to be used in place of professional psychological or medical advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment. If you are seeking mental health treatment, we welcome a call to this office at 770-457-5577. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.  

Depression affects about 1 in 10 people within any given year. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. The most common first age to experience a depressive episode is in the 20s. However, depression is increasingly more common in puberty-aged children and older adults. If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above symptoms, seek psychological care with a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible.

How does depression differ from sadness?

Typical life events, like a job loss, relationship difficulties, or death of a loved one, often result in feeling sad or “depressed.” In fact, it would be unusual if these events did not make one feel sad. But depression and sad mood are not the

What is depression?