Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a bleak outlook on life. It can also make it hard to think clearly and feel good about yourself. It can cause problems with work, school and social activities. It can also cause thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression is a serious illness that can be treated with psychotherapy (talk therapy) or medicine.
Depression varies from person to person, but some common symptoms include a persistent low mood or a lack of interest in things that normally bring you joy. You may also have trouble concentrating and feeling tired all the time. If these feelings are severe and long-lasting, you should talk to your doctor or mental health provider.
The signs and symptoms of depression can be different for men, women and children. The way you experience depression may also change with age. Depression can affect anyone, but it’s most likely to happen in people who have a family history of the condition. It can also be triggered by certain events, such as the death of a loved one or a violent attack. It can also be caused by hormones, like those found in the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy, or by a medical condition, such as thyroid disease or a brain tumor.
In some cases, depression is mild and short-lived. But in others, it can be more serious and last for weeks or months. It is important to get treatment early because it can prevent the symptoms from getting worse and keep them from returning.
A psychiatric exam and medical history are often used to diagnose depression. It is most commonly treated with medication or therapy. Psychotherapy can help you learn to recognize and deal with unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression. It can also teach you coping skills. Some types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are more effective than others. Your therapist can help you find the right kind of therapy for you.
Prescription medications called antidepressants can also improve your mood by changing the chemical balance in your brain. There are many different kinds of antidepressants, so it may take some time to find the one that works best for you. Some antidepressants have side effects, such as headaches, dizziness or fatigue, but these tend to improve over time.
Other treatments for depression include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which involves passing a small electrical current through your brain to trigger brief seizures that can help restore the normal levels of chemicals in your brain. ECT can be used to treat severe, life-threatening depression that has not responded to other treatment methods.