Depression Treatment Program

Depression is a serious mental illness, which affects mood, thought, body, and behavior. In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, clinical depression is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual's ability to function. It's more than the blues, yet many still view it as "personal weakness" or a "character flaw."

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Sad or low mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Reduced appetite, weight loss or increased appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, or too much sleep
  • Fatigue or lower energy
  • Thoughts of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making daily decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

If 5 or more symptoms last for two weeks or longer, or are severe enough to interfere with normal functioning, an evaluation for clinical depression by a qualified health or mental health professional is recommended.  Major depression often begins between ages 15-30 or even earlier. Some people have one episode in a lifetime; others, recurrent episodes. For some, depression is a chronic illness. A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, which involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Other Facts about Depression

Depression may be associated with life events such as significant losses (spouses, children, jobs) or major financial difficulties.  Personality factors such as undue dependency and low self-esteem may also be associated with a vulnerability to depression.  There's an increased risk for developing depression when there is a family history of these illnesses. Where a genetic vulnerability exists, onset probably results from a combination of vulnerability and life experience.  Depression often co-occurs with medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders. When this happens, the presence of both illnesses is frequently unrecognized and may lead to serious and unnecessary consequences for clients and families.

What is the Depression Treatment Program?

The Program studies, diagnoses, and treats depressive disorders. Northwestern University faculty member, Paula R. Young, PhD, is the program director and supervises all treatment. Experienced doctoral candidates also work with clients. Each therapist is closely supervised by Dr. Young or other qualified Northwestern University faculty members to insure clients are receiving the highest level of care.


You will receive a thorough diagnostic workup at the beginning of treatment to make sure your needs and problems have been pinpointed as well as possible. Clients participate in a detailed and comprehensive interview about past and present problems with depression, and related conditions. They are also asked to fill out a variety of questionnaires designed to help identify and assess the severity of their particular symptoms. This crucial step results in an explicit, understandable, and flexible treatment plan that accurately reflects the client's own individual needs. Clients are also encouraged to have a comprehensive physical examination with their own medical doctor.


CBT is a brief form of psychotherapy, which has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression. CBT Aims to directly target distressing symptoms, re-evaluate thinking and promote helpful coping responses by offering problem-focused, skills-based treatment interventions. The approach usually focuses on difficulties in the here and now, and relies on the therapist and client developing a shared view of the client's problem. The therapist helps the client identify personalized, time-limited therapy goals and strategies, which are continually monitored and evaluated throughout the therapy. CBT focuses on developing specific skills. Cognitive skills include identifying and changing certain thinking patterns that cause or increase emotional distress. Behavioral skills include learning healthy ways to respond when distressed. Being able to use these skills to manage one's mood is the main goal of therapy.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The usual format is weekly individual therapy sessions coupled with daily practice exercises designed to help the client apply CBT skills in their home environment. Most CBT clients are able to complete their treatment in just a few weeks or months. For people with more complex problems, longer-term treatment is also available.

How Much Does This Cost?

Clinic fees are determined based on the client's ability to pay. Services by more experienced staff therapists are set individually based on their levels of training and expertise.

How Do I Make an Appointment?

If you think that you or someone you know suffers from depression, or if you would like additional information, please call The Family Institute at 847-733-4300. If you are calling for an initial appointment, please dial 0 and ask for Registration.