Depression can be a very difficult condition to live with, but it is treatable and it does not have to be your lifelong experience.
Many people feel depressed for different reasons. Some might feel a bit low and feel like they want to stay in bed, while others will find it hard to go to work or school, or have difficulty in social situations.
It is important to talk to your doctor about the feelings you are having so they can help you feel better. If you are having a very bad time, your doctor may prescribe medication, psychotherapy or both to try and help you feel better.
The causes of depression are varied and can range from a poor diet to a medical problem. A stressful life event, such as a bereavement, can also trigger depression. Other factors, such as your personality or your relationships, can also contribute to the condition.
A chemical imbalance in the brain leads to depression. This is called a neurotransmitter imbalance. This happens when a person’s levels of certain chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine, don’t balance. The most common type of depression is the “bipolar” type, where a person has episodes of high and low moods.
Usually antidepressants are used to treat depression, although you might need to take several types before you find one that works for you. Medications may have side effects, but they often get better over time.
Your doctor will be able to tell if you have depression by looking at your symptoms and talking to you about your history. They will also ask you questions about the reasons for your depressive moods. They will also look at how long you have been feeling this way.
If you have been depressed for more than a year, you may need treatment to help with your moods and improve your quality of life. Your doctor might refer you to a psychiatrist, or a mental health expert, who will carry out tests to confirm your diagnosis.
You will probably need to start treatment within a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Some people respond well to therapy and medication alone, while others need both therapies to achieve a complete recovery.
Some treatments are only available in hospitals or residential facilities, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These procedures pass electric currents through your brain and help you release the chemicals that control your mood.
ECT can be very effective and is sometimes used to treat more severe cases of depression that do not respond to antidepressants or other methods of treating the condition. TMS involves using a coil that sends magnet pulses through your brain, which can help the nerve cells in your brain to regulate your moods.
Your doctor might also suggest behavioural activation, which teaches you how to set goals and increase positive interactions with people. It can also help you make more pleasurable activities part of your lifestyle, such as playing a sport or engaging in housework.