Depression is a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. It can have many symptoms that affect the way you think, feel and act. It can cause a person to have trouble with eating, sleeping and having energy. Depression can also lead to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. The good news is that depression is treatable. Depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. The first step to getting better is talking to a doctor or mental health professional. It is important to make an appointment as soon as you notice symptoms of depression.
Symptoms of depression include sadness, fatigue or lack of energy, feeling guilty, worthless, hopeless or helpless, having suicidal thoughts or a plan to kill yourself, and not being able to concentrate or remember things. People who have severe depression may lose interest in nearly all activities and spend most of their time sleeping or lying down. Depression can also affect a person’s appetite and body weight. In children, depression can manifest as irritability, anger and poor performance in school.
A person who has a major depressive disorder should be watched closely by a doctor or mental health professional. This is especially true if the person has thoughts of suicide or has made a previous attempt. The person should be kept away from drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances. It is important to take small steps towards recovery each day, such as cooking a healthy meal or going for a walk. A person with depression should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks.
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression. It involves talking with a therapist who helps the person identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy can be done alone or with other people, and it can last for several months or years. Some people who have depression benefit from attending a support group with other people who have the same illness.
There are some medications that can help treat depression by changing the chemistry in the brain. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for these medicines to start working, so it is important to keep taking them as prescribed. It is important to talk with your doctor if the medicine doesn’t work or has side effects that are too severe.
It is important to have a supportive network of family and friends to help weather rough spells. Keeping a diary of moods and triggers can help the person spot warning signs and seek help early. Educating family and friends about depression can also help them notice symptoms of the illness. It is also helpful to have a support system in place during treatment to help prevent relapses. This support can come from a support group, a family member or friend, and from therapy.