Depression is a mental disorder that affects every aspect of your life. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms can occur at any age. Getting help for depression is important to make you feel better.
Symptoms can include mood swings, anger, low self-esteem, irritability, and loss of appetite. Some people with depression may also have feelings of guilt or feelings of failure. There are several causes for depression, including a change in hormones, stress, and a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medications can help ease some of the symptoms. But they do not treat the underlying cause of the depression.
Depression is a common condition. In fact, in the United States, about 21 million adults suffered from a major depressive episode in 2020. Studies indicate that the risk of having depression increases as you get older. This is especially true for women.
People of all ages are at risk for depression, but women are more likely than men to suffer from it. Stressful events in life can trigger depression, such as a breakup, a death in the family, an accident, or the loss of a job. Other illnesses, such as anemia or diabetes, can also contribute to depression. The disease can also affect children. Children who grow up in unstable environments are more at risk for depression.
While there is no known cause of depression, the symptoms can be treated. Antidepressants can be used to relieve some of the symptoms. They work by spurring the growth of nerve cells. However, they do not solve all of the problems, so some people need to take additional medications to control their symptoms.
For those with moderate to severe depression, electroconvulsive therapy can help alleviate symptoms. This is typically only done if antidepressants are not working. A mild electrical current is passed through the brain, triggering brief seizures.
Psychotherapy is another form of treatment. The goal of this kind of therapy is to identify the stressors in your life and to change distorted views of yourself. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), talk therapy, and group therapy can all be helpful.
Although there are no cures for depression, 80% to 90% of people who receive treatment experience relief. However, if left untreated, depression can last for months or even years. Treatment can help to relieve the symptoms and prevent the illness from coming back.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be depressed, seek help immediately. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time, or call your local emergency room.
During an evaluation, your health professional will review your medical and family history. He or she will also conduct a physical exam to rule out other conditions that might cause the same symptoms. Additionally, he or she may ask you to fill out a questionnaire or complete a mental health examination.
Depending on your symptoms, treatment may take a few weeks or longer. It’s important to keep taking medication and to talk to your health provider if you’re having trouble with your symptoms.