Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause serious physical, emotional and social problems. The good news is that depression is treatable. Treatment options include medications, psychotherapy and a combination of the two.
The exact causes of depression are not known, but there are a number of factors that may increase your risk. Some of these include family history, stressful events, a medical illness or a substance abuse problem.
Symptoms of depression typically include feelings of sadness, hopelessness and/or anxiety. They are often accompanied by sleep and eating difficulties, low energy and poor concentration. Sometimes, these symptoms get so bad that it interferes with everyday life and leads to a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.
Diagnosing depression involves a number of different tests and examinations. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, check for other physical problems and consider whether medication might be helpful.
They will also look at your mood, your ability to function and your daily activities. They will use a guide called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). This guide gives doctors guidance about the main symptoms that should be included in a diagnosis of depression.
You should seek help as soon as you start to feel depressed. The sooner you seek treatment, the faster you will recover.
A therapist will give you strategies for improving your mood, such as changing your thinking patterns and behavior, and identifying what makes you feel better. They might also suggest ways to cope with stress and other triggers for your depression.
Therapy is an effective treatment for mild and moderate depression. Psychiatrists or other mental health professionals can provide a variety of therapies, including individual, group and family therapy. They can also help you develop coping skills, such as relaxation techniques and self-esteem building exercises.
Your therapist might try a therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you recognize and change behaviors that make you feel depressed. They might also try an approach called interpersonal therapy, which focuses on communication and the way you interact with others.
Medication can also be used to treat mild and moderate depression. Your doctor may prescribe one of several types of antidepressants, which help to regulate your mood and reduce your symptoms. Your therapist will work with you to find the right combination of medicines that is best for your situation.
Medications can be used together with other treatments to help ease symptoms and restore a normal balance of chemicals in the brain. Your therapist might also suggest other types of medication, such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a type of medication that uses a mild electrical current to stimulate the brain. This can ease symptoms in people with severe depression that doesn’t respond to other medications or therapies. It is usually used for up to 6 months, but can be helpful for as long as you have symptoms.