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I came to Skyland Trail hopeless and depressed. Skyland helped me build skills and relationships that gave me hope again.

– Heather B.


What is Major Depressive Disorder?

An individual with major depressive disorder, or major depression, has symptoms of a depressive episode – feeling sad, sleeping too little or too much and feeling very tired, changes in appetite, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and physical activity changes – all day, every day, for at least two weeks with functional impairment. Approximately 36 percent of Skyland Trail clients are admitted to our residential and day treatment programs with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

Impact & Risk

Individuals with untreated major depression can experience "social drift," a cascading sequence of events during which a person loses a job, then a house or apartment, access to health services, social relationships, etc., until he or she no longer has the resources, skills or motivation to participate in society. Individuals with untreated depression also are at significant increased risk for physical illnesses like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

What are the Treatments for Major Depression?

People with depression have successful results when they implement a full array of evidence-based strategies, including medication, psychotherapy, exercise, and sleep regulation. Other treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can also be very helpful. Early treatment is more effective and decreases the likelihood of recurrences.

At Skyland Trail, we tailor the treatment plan to each individual. In addition to optimizing the use of pharmacologic therapies, our holistic recovery program gives our clients the opportunity to learn about their illness and practice skills and strategies to cope with emotions and situations that may trigger depression. Clients participate in individual and group therapy sessions where our psychiatrists and counselors use a combination of therapeutic approaches proven by research to be effective. If clients need help recovering from a substance use problem, we help them address both their depression diagnosis and their substance use issue simultaneously, which research shows is essential for full recovery.

In addition to medication and therapy, through our horticulture, arts and music programs, individuals can build confidence, identify and externalize potentially difficult feelings, and address symptoms through creative expression and social interaction. We provide education about the increased risk for medical diseases and help prevent those diseases through our primary care and wellness program. Our clients have the opportunity to explore potential spiritual resources through pastoral counseling. And, because an important part of therapy for individuals with depression is shifting their focus outside of themselves, our clients participate in organized humanitarian efforts and in our  vocational services program to set and work toward  goals for school, work or volunteer activities.

Tom's Journey 

Through Tom's hard work at Skyland Trail, he was able to find medications that worked to reduce his symptoms and learned important skills to help him maintain his wellness. 

West's Story

Read about young adult, West and the changes he has made after treatment at Skyland Trail on our blog.
Read West's story >