How to Prevent and Treat Depression


Depression is a serious condition that affects all aspects of one’s life. Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and despair that interfere with work, family, school or other daily activities. They can also cause physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, fatigue and aches and pains. Fortunately, depression is treatable. It takes a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medication to help you feel better.

Depression can be hard to recognize because it’s different from the normal sadness and blues most of us feel from time to time. If these feelings persist day after day, it’s important to get help from a health professional. If the symptoms are severe, hospital or residential treatment may be needed. The earlier the treatment starts, the more effective it is.

It’s not clear why some people develop depression, but it likely involves a complex mix of social, psychological and biological factors. A person’s genes may play a role, and traumatic or stressful events can also trigger it. Depression can occur in all ages, genders and races. It’s more common in adolescents, and it often recurs during the teen years.

A person with depression feels sad, empty or hopeless most of the time. He or she loses interest in things they used to enjoy and may have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions. In addition, he or she may have difficulty sleeping (waking up too early, staying awake or sleeping too much), a change in appetite, weight loss or gain, tiredness and feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. People with depression may also have thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

In the past, depression was seen as a weakness or character flaw, but it’s now recognized that it’s a medical illness. Depression is a treatable illness, and everyone has the right to seek help.

The best way to prevent depression is to take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and try stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness. See your GP if you have symptoms of depression. It’s important to talk about them, and to know that it’s not your fault.

Depression is a complex illness, and some people need long-term treatment. This can include psychotherapy, antidepressants or a combination of both. Electroconvulsive therapy, which uses electric currents to alter the brain’s neurotransmitters, is another option that your doctor may suggest if you don’t respond to other treatments. Another treatment is transcranial magnetic stimulation, which uses magnets to send signals to the brain to improve mood and reduce anxiety. In addition, your doctor may prescribe a vitamin or mineral supplement to support your health. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and to report any side effects you experience.