Depression can be an extremely debilitating condition, with many people experiencing symptoms for months or even years before they get help. The good news is that about 80% of people with depression will respond to treatment and become well again!
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person, but are typically present in some form for most of the day. In the beginning, they might include feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, feelings of emptiness, loss of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping or other sleep problems, changes in appetite, or feeling sad or irritable all the time. Some people have other physical signs of depression as well, such as fatigue or chronic pain.
There is no cure for depression, but treatments can make a big difference in the quality of life of a person with depression. They may include counseling, medication and/or brain stimulation therapy.
The best way to help someone who is suffering from depression is by identifying their symptoms and offering them emotional support. Encourage them to take care of themselves, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. Set small, attainable goals to help them build confidence and motivation.
Be sure to check in with them regularly. This will help you know how they are feeling and will let them know that you’re there for them if they need you. If you notice a change in their behavior or if they are becoming suicidal, it’s also important to let them know they can get help.
Diagnosing depression involves a combination of interviews, questionnaires and tests to rule out other mental health conditions or medical problems. Your doctor will look for specific symptoms and explore your medical and family history. They will use the criteria in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5) to determine whether you have depression.
You might also have a physical examination or lab work done. Your doctor will look for any other problems that might be causing the depression, such as a thyroid problem or vitamin deficiency.
Your doctor may also have you fill out a depression scale to see how severe your symptoms are. They might ask questions about your sleep patterns, appetite, and general mood.
It’s also helpful to discuss any recent traumatic events, such as a death or divorce, and any relationship issues that you’ve been dealing with recently. These can all trigger depression or bring it on more quickly than they might otherwise.
Some people are at higher risk for developing depression than others. This could be because they have certain personality traits, or because they are more likely to get depressed in response to a stressful situation like a relationship breakdown or a loss of a loved one.
The cause of depression is not clear, but it’s believed to be related to genetics, environment and biology. Some people may be more likely to develop depression if they have a family history of it. However, researchers are finding that people with no known history of depression can still be affected by it.