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02/11/2021 Sophia Hogg
Depression is a mood disorder or disturbance which causes a continuous feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and could lead to a variety of emotional and physical issues. You might have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you might feel as if life is not worth living.
More than just about the blues, depression is not a weakness and you cannot simply "snap out" of it. Depression might need long-term treatment. But do not get discouraged. Most people with depression feel good with medication, psychotherapy, or both.
However depression might happen only once during your life, people generally have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms happen most of the day, nearly every day, and might include:
For many people with depression, symptoms generally are serious enough to cause noticeable problems in everyday activities, for example, work, school, social activities, or relationships with others. Some people might feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are identical to those of adults, but there could be some differences.
Depression is not a common part of growing older, and it should not be taken lightly. Unluckily, depression usually goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they might feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression might be different or less obvious in older adults, for example:
It is not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors might be involved, for example:
Your primary care physician might determine a diagnosis of depression based on:
Types of depression
Symptoms caused by major depression could vary from person to person. To clarify the type of depression you have, your primary care physician might add one or more specifiers. A specifier means that you have depression with specific features, for example:
Other disorders that cause depression symptoms include:
Various other disorders, for example, those below, include depression as a symptom. It is crucial to get an accurate diagnosis, so you could get appropriate treatment.
Medications and psychotherapy are helpful for most people with depression. Your primary care physician or psychiatrist could prescribe medications to ease symptoms. Although, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.
If you have serious depression, you might require a hospital stay, or you might require to participate in an outpatient treatment program until your symptoms improve.
Here's a closer look at depression treatment options or alternatives.
Many kinds of antidepressants are available, including those below. Be sure to discuss possible major side effects with your primary care physician or pharmacist.
Finding the right medication
If a family member has responded well to an antidepressant, it might be one that could help you. Or you might require to try several medications or a combination of medications before you find one that works. This needs patience, as some medications require several weeks or longer to take full effect and for side effects to ease as your body adjusts.
Inherited traits play a role in how antidepressants impact you. In some cases, where available, results of genetic tests (done by a blood test or cheek swab) might provide clues about how your body might respond to a particular antidepressant. Although, other variables besides genetics could affect your response to medication.
Risks of abruptly stopping the medication
Do not stop taking an antidepressant without talking to your primary care physician first. Antidepressants are not considered addictive, but sometimes physical dependence (which is different from addiction) could happen.
Stopping treatment unexpectedly or missing several doses could cause withdrawal-like symptoms, and quitting unexpectedly might cause an unexpected worsening of depression. Work with your primary care physician to slowly and safely decrease your dose.
Antidepressants and pregnancy
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, some antidepressants might pose an increased health risk to your unborn child or nursing child. Talk with your primary care physician if you become pregnant or you are planning to become pregnant.
Antidepressants and increased suicide risk
Most antidepressants are usually safe, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs all antidepressants to carry a black box warning, the strictest warning for prescriptions. In some cases, children, teenagers, and young adults under age 25 might have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, particularly in the first few weeks after beginning or when the dose is changed.
Anyone taking an antidepressant should be watched closely for worsening depression or uncommon behavior, particularly when beginning a new medication or with a change in dosage. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts when taking an antidepressant, immediately contact a primary care physician or get emergency help.
Keep in mind that antidepressants are more likely to lower suicide risk in the long run by improving mood.
Psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression by talking about your condition and associated problems with a mental health professional. Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy or psychological therapy.
Different types of psychotherapy could be helpful for depression, like cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy. Your mental health professional might also suggest other types of therapies. Psychotherapy could help you:
Alternate formats for therapy
Formats for depression therapy as an alternative to face-to-face office sessions are available and might be a helpful option for some people. Therapy could be offered, for instance, as a computer program, by online sessions, or using videos or workbooks. Programs could be guided by a therapist or be partially or totally independent.
Before you choose one of these options, discuss these formats with your therapist to determine if they might be helpful for you. Also, ask your therapist if he or she could suggest a trusted source or program. Some might not be covered by your insurance and not all developers and online therapists have the proper credentials or training.
Smartphones and tablets that provide mobile health apps, for example, support and general education about depression, are not a substitute for seeing your primary care physician or therapist.
Hospital and residential treatment
In some people, depression is so serious that a hospital stay is required. This might be required if you cannot care for yourself properly or when you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else. Psychiatric treatment at a hospital could help keep you calm and safe until your mood improves.
Partial hospitalization or day treatment programs also might help some people. These programs offer the outpatient support and counseling required to get symptoms under control.
Other treatment options
For some people, other procedures, sometimes known as brain stimulation therapies, might be recommended: