Depression is a serious mood disorder caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. It affects every part of your life and makes it difficult to function, but it is treatable. Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness, and it often leads to physical problems such as a loss of appetite, sleeping too much or too little, or trouble concentrating and making decisions. Depression can be triggered by certain illnesses or life events, but it also tends to run in families. It can start during childhood, after a significant relationship ends or as people get older.
If you are concerned that you might have depression, ask your doctor about it. Your doctor will be able to evaluate your symptoms and refer you to a mental health professional for treatment.
There are many kinds of treatments for depression, including psychotherapy and medications. Some people find that a combination of treatments works best for them. Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that helps you learn ways to cope with your feelings and emotions. It can be done alone or with other people, such as family members or friends who are experiencing depression. You may be able to receive this kind of therapy through your insurance or through a community resource program.
Medications used to treat depression include antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Antidepressants can take a while to work, but they are effective for most people who have depression. Some people have a better response to a different kind of medication, such as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). These are generally prescribed for severe depression and are usually taken by mouth.
Research shows that exercise can help reduce depression. So can a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. You can also try activities that make you laugh or spend time with friends and family.
Depression can have a negative impact on relationships, so it’s important to seek support from those closest to you. You can also join a support group for people who have depression or other mental illness.
Symptoms of depression must last for at least two weeks and represent a change from your normal state for you to be diagnosed with depression. Your doctor will use a standard guide, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, to evaluate your symptoms. Other medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or a brain tumor, can sometimes mimic depression, so it’s important to rule these out before you get treatment.
People who have depression may need help learning to recognize warning signs so they can seek help before things get worse. They should also ask for help from a trained mental health professional, and encourage their family to get involved by learning about depression so they can understand it and provide support. People who are depressed need to be motivated to stick with their treatment plan, which may include taking medicines or going to therapy sessions. In extreme cases, especially when someone is having suicidal thoughts or hallucinations, they may need to go to the hospital for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other hospitalization.