Depression is a mood disorder that can cause feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. The condition is often treated with antidepressants and talk therapy.
Depression affects about 7% of adults in the United States each year, and it’s much more common in women than men. It’s also more likely in people who were assigned female at birth, or who identify as being female or agender (bigender, genderfluid, pangender or transgender).
The causes of depression vary widely. They include brain chemistry, genetics, stressful life events and medical conditions like chronic pain or diabetes.
Chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters can play a role in depression, especially when they aren’t working properly. Hormone changes from pregnancy and postpartum, thyroid problems or menopause can also set off depression symptoms.
In some cases, medications can help change the brain chemistry that causes depression. There are several types of antidepressants and it may take time to find the right one for you.
Psychotherapy (talk therapy) helps people who have depression identify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that lead to symptoms. It can also teach you how to manage your feelings and cope with the disorder. Sometimes, people need to attend therapy regularly for years.
Treatment for depression includes medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. You can improve your outlook by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising and reducing stress.
Having a supportive network of family and friends can also be helpful for some people who have depression. It can help them feel less alone and unable to cope with their symptoms.
Guilt, self-blame and negative thoughts can also be associated with depression. This is because a person who is depressed often feels that they are a failure and have done something wrong in the past.
These feelings can be very difficult to deal with and can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts. You should seek help if you are thinking about harming yourself or someone else.
You should talk to your doctor as soon as you notice signs of depression or feel that your symptoms are impacting your life. You can do this by making an appointment with your primary care provider or a mental health specialist.
If you are having symptoms that are severe, or you think you might hurt yourself or someone else, you should go to a hospital emergency room or psychiatric hospital where you can get help. If your depression is very severe, you might need to stay in a residential treatment facility.
Your healthcare provider can also recommend other treatment options, such as counseling and behavioral or exercise programs. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and determine the best treatment for you.
Depression is a very serious illness, and it can be hard to live with. It can affect your mood, relationships and work performance. It can also make it harder for you to enjoy your hobbies, socialize or have fun with friends.
Some people who are diagnosed with depression may also have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. The doctors can help you decide if these mental disorders are the root of your depression. If they are, your doctor can prescribe a treatment that will treat both conditions.