Article | March 2018

Understanding Depression

Depression is much more than a slump in your mood. When you have a case of the blues, you tend to feel better in a few days. Depression can both last a long time, and it can come and go. You can't ignore it, or joke or whistle it away.

People with depression often experience:

  • Loss of interest in home, work, and personal appearance.
  • Loss of interest in sexual activity.
  • Sudden, extreme changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  • Frequent, uncontrollable crying.
  • Lasting, unfocused nervousness or grouchiness.
  • Stubborn feelings of hopelessness.

Causes of depression

Depression can have both physical and psychological causes. Illness and chemical imbalances are common physical causes. Psychological or emotional causes include distressing life changes. The death of a loved one, a divorce, or loss of a job can be triggers. Long-term problems with emotional dependency or poor self-esteem can contribute, too.

If depression isn't treated, it can be debilitating and can lead to suicide. It's a serious condition that requires serious treatment.

Treatment for depression

If you think you might have depression, your first step is to get a medical check-up. Even if your depression has emotional causes, you may need medication to treat it. That decision must be made by a doctor who knows the state of your physical health.

If your depression has a physical cause, treating the underlying illness may be the cure. Depression caused by a chemical imbalance can also be treated with medicine. Sometimes certain combinations of medicines can produce depression. Your doctor will want to review all medicines you've been taking.

If your depression was caused by an event or situation, counseling or therapy may help.

Self-care Tips

Getting professional help is your first step. But there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better. Follow a healthy, well rounded diet, and get regular exercise. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking, and swimming, is a great idea. Studies show that exercise releases "feel good" hormones in the brain. These hormones can lift your spirits and help you feel more optimistic and in control.1

Self-care can help, but it can't replace medical attention. Talk to your health care provider.


1 Mayo Clinic, Postpartum Depression Symptoms and Causes

2 WebMD, Exercise and Depression

This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice. Only a health care provider can make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral health benefits, you can call the member services or behavioral health telephone number listed on your health care ID card.