Mclean Hospital

Depression Treatment

Care and Support for Children and Adults Living with Depression


355 million people are affected by depression, making it one of the most common disorders in the world. At McLean Hospital, we are committed to providing support for individuals with depression through world-class treatment, innovative research into causes and cures, and robust education for patients and families, clinicians, and the broader community.

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects the whole body including mood and thoughts. It touches every part of one’s life. It is important to know that depression is not a weakness or character flaw—it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be treated. If you have one episode of depression, you are at risk of having more throughout life. Without treatment, depression can happen more often and become more serious. Scientists believe that depression doesn’t have a singular cause, but may be brought on by a traumatic event, changes in life circumstances, genetics, changes in the brain, or alcohol or drug abuse.

Find out more about depression including treatment programs at McLean, definitions, and helpful resources.

Depression Treatment at McLean

At McLean Hospital, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive mental health services to help children and adults living with depression. We utilize evidence-based treatment and therapy models informed by cutting-edge research conducted at McLean and around the world. By incorporating various approaches, treatment can be customized for each individual to help ensure recovery.

Depression care incorporates individual, group, and family therapy, behavioral therapies, diagnostic assessment, consultation services, tailored treatment plans, and medication evaluation and management. McLean is committed to providing robust patient and family education and support including informational materials, support groups, and assistance with community resources.

Our inpatient programs offer a safe and secure environment for patients in need of immediate acute care, while our residential, day, and outpatient programs focus on providing skills for patients to manage their illnesses on their own.

McLean’s Depression Programs


The Pavilion – A comprehensive evaluation and diagnostic program for adults with complex or treatment-resistant psychiatric conditions in a range of diagnoses.

LEADER – Care focused on the unique needs of first responders and active duty military. Residential and outpatient options are available.

Treatment at McLeanAdult Inpatient Services – With two locations in Massachusetts, these programs focus on intensive crisis stabilization for patients with mood, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders.

Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program – A comprehensive, multi-track treatment program serving as a step-down from or as an alternative to inpatient care.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Service – An outpatient service for people 16 and older with depression and anxiety who have not responded to medication or other forms of treatment.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Service – An outpatient treatment program using magnetic stimulation to help control mood in adults with major depression.

McLean SouthEast Adult Psychiatric Partial Hospital Program – Structured day program treatment in Middleborough, Massachusetts, focusing on mood and anxiety disorders.

Children and Adolescents

3East – Intensive programs for adolescents ages 13 to 20 who require treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

McLean-Franciscan Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program – Stabilization and treatment for children and adolescents ages 3 to 19 who are in psychiatric crisis.

Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment (ART) Program – Short-term treatment for adolescents ages 13 to 19 with emotional and behavioral difficulties including those with substance use disorders.

What Is Depression?

Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times. However, depression is more intense and harder to manage than normal feelings of sadness. A person may have different symptoms of depression including:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling inadequate or worthless
  • Excessive guilt
  • Repeating thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: people with these symptoms should get help right away)
  • Loss of interest in usual activities or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Relationship problems
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • A decrease in the ability to make decisions

Left untreated, depression can be a debilitating illness for individuals and their families. Often, symptoms are not recognized for their severity and can worsen, and severe depression may lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Common treatments for depression include individual and group therapy, and medications as appropriate. Other treatments may include TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), both of which have been found to have profound effects on individuals with depression, especially for those who have not found relief in symptoms through other treatment methods.

Many factors contribute to depression, and it is likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Life events (such as stressful life changes) may also contribute to a depressed mood. Depression also tends to run in families. The exact biological cause of depression is still being investigated, including by scientists at McLean like Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD.

Suicidal behavior is defined as a preoccupation or act that is focused on causing one’s own death voluntarily. Suicidal ideation refers to thoughts of suicide or wanting to take one’s own life. Suicidal behavior refers to actions taken by one who is considering or preparing to cause his or her own death. Suicide attempt usually refers to an act focused on causing one’s own death that is unsuccessful in causing death. Suicide refers to having intentionally caused one’s own death. Talking about suicide is the best way to prevent it. Although it is not possible to predict suicide with any certainty, our best tool is recognition of the signs that many people exhibit when contemplating suicide. These three behaviors should prompt you to seek immediate help for you or a loved one: talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself; looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun; talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. See the Resources section below for actions to take if you or someone you know needs help.

Depression Resources

These organizations may be useful to find more information on depression and suicide prevention.


Suicide Prevention

If you or someone you know needs help:

These organizations also offer suicide prevention resources:

Interesting Articles

Books About Depression

McLean Hospital faculty have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including these books about depression.

Biographies of Disease: DepressionBiographies of Disease: Depression
by Blaise Aguirre, MD
(Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008)

CBT for Depressed AdolescentsCognitive Behavior Therapy for Depressed Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Management and Treatment
by Randy P. Auerbach, Christian A. Webb, Jeremy G. Stewart
(Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2016)

Learn More

Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.

By Condition

By Age