Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world; in the United States, close to ten percent of adults struggle with the disease. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. Helen M. Farrell examines the symptoms and treatments of depression, and gives some tips for how you might help a friend who is suffering.







  • to feel down – to feel unhappy
  • trigger – something causing something else to begin to happen
  • to pop up – to appear or occur suddenly
  • out of the blue – unexpectedly
  • to linger – to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected
  • restlessness – the inability to rest, relax, or be still
  • recurrent – occurring often or repeatedly
  • depletion – reduction in the number or quantity of something
  • blunted – weakened
  • intangible – non-physical, invisible
  • seizure  is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain
  • to seek out – to search hard for
  • insurmountable – incapable of being surmounted, or overcome
  • to will yourself – to make something happen by wishing for it very strongly
  • to erode – to gradually destroy

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is the difference between having depression and feeling depressed?
  2. What can depression interfere with?
  3. What are some of its symptoms?
  4. Do genes and environment have anything to do with depression?
  5. Are depression symptoms easily seen?
  6. How long does it take the average person suffering with a mental illness to ask for help?
  7. Are there any effective treatments?
  8. Is there anything you can do to help a person struggling with depression?

Practice Makes Perfect

Replace the words in italics with one of the words in Glossary:    

  1. Almost everyone feels depressed from time to time.
  2. Sometimes there’s no cause at all.
  3. It just appears suddenly out of the blue.
  4. It takes a long time to disappear/ …… for at least two consecutive weeks.
  5. Depression can have a lot of different symptoms: a low mood, loss of interest in things you’d normally enjoy, changes in appetite, sleeping too much or too little, moving because you are unable to relax or slowness, loss of energy, or repeated thoughts of suicide.
  6. Depression is associated with the abnormal transmission or reduction in the quantity of certain neurotransmitters.
  7. Depression symptoms are impossible to be exactly described.
  8. To someone with depression, these first steps can seem too great to be overcome.
  9. Open conversations about mental illness help remove stigma and make it easier for people to ask for help.


 ANSWERS: 1. down; 2. trigger; 3. pops up; 4. lingers; 5. restlessness; recurrent; 6.  depletion; 7. intangible; 8. insurmountable; 9. erode




  • How often do you feel down? What triggers this mood?
  • Have you ever had a recurrent dream/nightmare?
  • Have you ever had an insurmountable problem?
  • What would make you feel restless?
  • Were you the kind of student who lingered after class to ask questions?


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Coffee and Tea May Protect the Brain

Daily drinkers have lower rates of depression and cognitive decline