Depression is a serious illness. It’s not something that will just go away on its own, like a stomach bug or the common cold. It requires treatment from a mental health professional and/or medication.
The most effective way to treat depression is with psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medications. Most people feel better within a few weeks. Getting help as soon as possible can prevent the condition from getting worse. Some people may also need to take other medications, such as SSRIs or MAOIs, to control side effects.
Some symptoms of depression include trouble sleeping, feeling sad or hopeless, low energy, a loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyable activities, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and difficulty thinking or remembering. While it is normal to have these feelings from time to time, if you experience them on a regular basis and they interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from depression.
It’s not always easy to know when you have depression. No two people have the exact same symptoms, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Depression can last for a few weeks to several years. Depending on how serious your depression is, you may need to seek help from a mental health professional and/or your primary care doctor.
Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and your overall well-being. The doctor will ask you when your depression started, what symptoms are present and how long they’ve been happening. The doctor will also want to know whether your symptoms are due to a medical problem such as thyroid problems or a nutritional deficiency.
Biological factors may contribute to depression, such as changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It’s not clear what causes these chemical changes, but scientists believe they can be triggered by certain circumstances, such as stressful events or the death of someone close to you. Hormones can also play a role in depression, especially during pregnancy and the weeks and months after delivery, and in women during menopause. Some researchers believe that depression runs in families, and some studies have found that there may be specific genes that increase your risk of having this mood disorder.
A number of different types of therapy can help treat depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. In addition to individual psychotherapy, there are group therapy and family therapy options available for those with depression.
Almost everyone with depression gets better with treatment. Even the most severe cases of depression can be treated. The earlier that you get treatment, the more likely it is that you will feel better and be able to enjoy your life again. If you think you might have depression, see your doctor right away. They can evaluate your symptoms and refer you to a mental health specialist, if needed. The sooner you get treatment, the more effective it will be.