Depression – What is It?


Depression is one of the most common illnesses. It affects your mood, how you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness or emptiness and may cause trouble concentrating or sleeping. Some people also have irritability or angry outbursts. Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. Depression can be treated with medicine or psychotherapy or a combination of both.

The most common treatment is antidepressants. These medicines work by raising the levels of certain chemicals in your brain. There are many different antidepressants, and each works a little differently. Your doctor will prescribe the type and dose that is right for you. Some medicines can take a while to start working. It is important to take your medication as directed.

You can help someone with depression by letting them know you care and offering support. You can also encourage them to get treatment and help find resources. The more you learn about depression, the better you will be able to help.

People who have depression often have irrational, pessimistic beliefs that are hard to break. These negative attitudes are called cognitive distortions. They may include thoughts like, “Nothing will ever be better” or, “I’m a terrible person.”

Your friend or family member can have a variety of symptoms that can vary in severity. Some people have only mild or moderate depression, while others have severe depression. Depression can affect men, women, children and teens, and it can be found in all races and economic groups. It can occur at any age, but it is most likely to develop in middle adulthood. It is less common in teenagers than in adults, and it tends to run in families.

Symptoms of depression can range from feeling sad or empty to suicidal thoughts. Depression is usually a long-term illness, but it can improve with treatment. Some people recover in a few weeks, while others require longer treatment. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is.

A health care provider can diagnose depression by doing a physical exam and asking about your past and current symptoms. Your doctor may order lab tests, such as a complete blood count or a thyroid test. Your doctor will also use the criteria for depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5).

Lifestyle changes can help treat depression. Try to eat well, get enough sleep and be physically active. Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can make depression worse. Get regular social contact, such as face-to-face meetings or phone calls with friends and family. Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Try to get enough vitamin B, which can be deficient in people with depression.