Depression is feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or down in the dumps. Most people feel this way once in a while.
Major depression is a mood disorder. It occurs when feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration get in the way of your life over a long period of time. It also changes how your body works.
Depression - Animation
If you often feel sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps, you may have depression. Let's talk about depression, and what you can do to get out of your funk. Depression often runs in families. This may be due to your genes, passed down by your parents and grandparents, the behaviors you learn at home, or both. Even if your genetic makeup makes you more likely to develop depression, a stressful or unhappy life event may triggers the depression. Depression can have many causes, including internal factors like genetics, or negative personality. External factors, substance misuse, or trauma and loss. Common triggers include alcohol or drug use, and medical problems long-term pain, cancer or even sleeping problems. Stressful life events, like getting laid off, abuse at home or on the job, neglect, family problems, death of a loved one, or divorce, can send someone spiraling into depression. There are three main types of depression; major depression, atypical depression and dysthymia. To be diagnosed with major depression, you must demonstrate 5 or more of the primary symptoms for at least two weeks. Atypical depression occurs in about a third of patients with depression, with symptoms including overeating, oversleeping, and feeling like you are weighed down. Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that can last for years if not treated. Other forms include the depression that is part of bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, occurring after a woman gives birth, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, occurring 1 week before a woman's menstrual period and seasonal affective disorder, occurring in both males and females during the fall and winter seasons. No matter what type of depression you have and how severe it is, some self-care steps can help. Get enough sleep if you can, exercise regularly, and follow a healthy, nutritious diet. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Get involved in activities that make you happy and spend time with family and friends. If you are religious, talk to a clergy member. Consider meditation, tai chi, or other relaxation methods. If you are depressed for 2 weeks or longer, contact your doctor or other health professional before your symptoms get worse. Treatment will depend on your symptoms. For mild depression, counseling and self-care may be enough. Either psychotherapy or antidepressant medicines may help, but they are often more effective when combined. Vigorous exercise and light therapy could offer significant benefit alone or in combination. Healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent and treat depression, and reduce the chances of it coming back. Talk therapy and antidepressant medication can also make you less likely to become depressed again. In fact, talk therapy may help you through times of grief, stress, or low mood. In general, staying active, making a difference in the life of others, getting outside and keeping in close contact with other people is important for preventing depression.
Health care providers do not know the exact causes of depression. It is believed that chemical changes in the brain are responsible. This may be due to a problem with your genes. Or it may be triggered by certain stressful events. More likely, it is a combination of both.
Some types of depression run in families. Other types occur even if you have no family history of the illness. Anyone can develop depression, including children and teens.
Depression is a serious medical condition that you need help with until you feel better. Know that you are not alone. One in five teenagers will be...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Depression and men
Depression is less reported in the male population, but this may be caused by male tendency to mask emotional disorders with behavior such as alcohol abuse.
Depression may be brought on by:
- Alcohol or drug use
Alcohol use disorder is when your drinking causes serious problems in your life, yet you keep drinking. You may also need more and more alcohol to f...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Certain medical problems, such as underactive thyroid, cancer, or long-term pain
- Some kinds of medicines, such as steroids
- Sleeping problems
- Stressful life events, such as death or illness of someone close to you, divorce, medical problems, childhood abuse or neglect, loneliness (common in older people), and relationship breakup
Depression can change or distort the way you see yourself, your life, and those around you.
With depression, you often see everything in a negative way. It is hard for you to imagine that a problem or situation can be solved in a positive way.
Forms of depression
Depression is defined as a mood disorder, and there are several subtypes. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is considered in a separate category.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Agitation, restlessness, and irritability and anger
- Becoming withdrawn or isolated
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, and self-hate
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Sudden change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Depression in teens may be harder to recognize. Problems with school, behavior, or alcohol or drug use can all be signs.
Depression in teens
One in five teenagers have depression at some point. Your teen may be depressed if they are feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or down in the dumps. Depre...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
If depression is very severe, you may have hallucinations and delusions (false beliefs). This condition is called depression with psychotic features.
Test Your Knowledge about Depression Treatment
Only medicine can treat depression.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is false. People with mild depression often get better with talk therapy alone. People with severe depression may need a combination of both medicine and counseling. Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan that will work best for you.
How do antidepressants work to treat depression?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is they increase certain chemicals in your brain that affect mood. These medicines won't make you forget your problems or affect your ability to think. But they will help you feel better, which makes it easier to deal with the stress in your life.
How soon will antidepressants help?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is a few weeks. It can take several weeks before you start to feel better. So try to be patient. Keep taking your medicine, and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
Once you feel better, you should stop taking antidepressants after:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is none of the above. You should not stop taking antidepressants without talking with your doctor. Even if you feel better, if you stop taking medicine too soon, your depression may return. Stopping too quickly can also cause withdrawal symptoms. Most people treated with antidepressants are eventually able to stop their medicine.
What are common side effects of antidepressants?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is all of the above. These are all common side effects, but most go away after a few days. Many people who take antidepressants have no side effects. Tell your doctor if you have any bothersome side effects or side effects that don't go away.
If you don't feel better after taking antidepressants for a month or two, you should:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is tell your doctor. Your doctor may change your antidepressant, prescribe a higher dose, or add a second medicine. Adding talk therapy is another good option.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you deal with negative thoughts.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is true. CBT is a type of talk therapy that teaches you to recognize and change negative thoughts. You'll also learn to spot things that might make your depression worse and develop problem-solving skills.
A typical course of CBT lasts:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is 12 weeks. Most CBT takes place once a week over the course of 3 to 4 months. Ask your doctor to recommend a therapist who specializes in CBT.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is painful and risky.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is false. ECT is a safe and effective treatment for severe depression. During ECT, a small electric current causes seizure activity in the brain. You will be asleep until the procedure is over. ECT is a good option for people who can't take antidepressants or who don't respond to them.
St. John's wort can treat major depression.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is false. One study found that this herbal remedy worked no better than a sugar pill for treating major depression. However, it may help some people with mild depression. St. John's wort may interact with other medicines, so talk with your doctor before trying it.
If you're depressed, regular exercise could help you feel better.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is true. Getting regular exercise and following other healthy habits can give you an edge in fighting depression and often improves symptoms of depression. Also do your best to get enough sleep, avoid alcohol, spend time with caring friends, and do activities that you enjoy.
Exams and Tests
Your provider will ask about your medical history and symptoms. Your answers can help your provider diagnose depression and determine how severe it may be.
Blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions that have symptoms similar to depression.
Depression can be treated. Treatment typically includes medicines, with or without talk therapy.
If you are thinking about suicide or are very depressed and cannot function, you may need to be treated in a hospital.
After you have been on treatment, if you feel your symptoms are getting worse, talk with your provider. Your treatment plan may need to be changed.
Antidepressants are medicines used to treat depression. They work by bringing back the chemicals in your brain to the right levels. This helps relieve your symptoms.
If you have delusions or hallucinations, your provider may prescribe additional medicines.
Tell your provider about any other medicines you take. Some medicines can change the way antidepressants work in your body.
Allow your medicine time to work. It may take a few weeks before you feel better. Keep taking your medicine as instructed. DO NOT stop taking it or change the amount (dosage) you are taking without talking to your provider. Ask your provider about possible side effects, and what to do if you have any.
DO NOT stop taking it
Antidepressants are prescription medicines you may take to help with depression, anxiety, or pain. Like any medicine, there are reasons you may take...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
If you feel your medicine is not working or causing side effects, tell your provider. The medicine or its dosage may need to be changed. DO NOT stop taking medicines on your own.
Children, teens, and young adults should be watched closely for suicidal behavior. This is especially true during the first few months after starting medicines for depression.
Women being treated for depression who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should not stop taking antidepressants without first talking to their provider.
St. John's Wort
The herb St. John's Wort is believed to be helpful in relieving mild to moderate depression, but should only be taken under a physician's supervision. St. John's Wort may clash with other medications or foods a patient is taking, and the efficacy of the supplement is not regulated or assured.
Beware of natural remedies such as St. John's wort. This is an herb sold without a prescription. It may help some people with mild depression. But it can change the way other medicines work in your body, including antidepressants. Talk to your provider before trying this herb.
If you feel your medicine is making you worse or causing new symptoms (such as confusion), tell your provider right away. Go to an emergency room if you are concerned about your safety.
Talk therapy is counseling to talk about your feelings and thoughts, and help you learn how to deal with them.
Types of talk therapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you how to fight off negative thoughts. You learn how to become more aware of your symptoms and how to spot things that make your depression worse. You are also taught problem-solving skills.
- Psychotherapy can help you understand the issues that may be behind your thoughts and feelings.
- At group therapy, you share with others who have problems like yours. Your therapist or provider can tell you more about group therapy.
OTHER TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION
You may start feeling better a few weeks after starting treatment. If you take medicine, you will need to stay on the medicine for several months to feel good and prevent depression from returning. If your depression keeps coming back, you may need to stay on your medicine for a long period.
Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is also cal...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Alcohol or drug use can make depression worse. Talk to your provider about getting help.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or others, call 911 or the local emergency number right away. Or, go to the hospital emergency room. DO NOT delay.
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), where you can receive free and confidential support anytime day or night.
Call your provider right away if:
- You hear voices not coming from people around you.
- You have frequent crying spells with little or no reason.
- Your depression is disrupting work, school, or family life.
- You think that your current medicine is not working or is causing side effects. DO NOT stop or change your medicine without talking to your provider.
DO NOT drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. These substances make depression worse and may lead to thoughts of suicide.
Take your medicine exactly as your provider instructed. Learn to recognize the early signs that your depression is getting worse.
Keep going to your talk therapy sessions.
Walking for health
Exercise, including walking at least 30 minutes a day, decreases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, osteoporosis, depression and obesity.
The following tips may help you feel better:
- Get more exercise.
- Maintain good sleep habits.
- Do activities that bring you pleasure.
- Volunteer or get involved in group activities.
- Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
- Try to be around people who are caring and positive.
Learn more about depression by contacting a local mental health clinic. Your workplace employee assistance program (EAP) is also a good resource. Online resources can also provide good information.
Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Internal review and update on 08/20/2021 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
American Psychiatric Association website. Depressive disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:155-188.
Fava M, Østergaard SD, Cassano P. Mood disorders: depressive disorders (major depressive disorder). In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 29.
Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement website. Adult depression in primary care. www.icsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Depr.pdf. Updated March 2016. Accessed July 28, 2021.
Lyness JM. Psychiatric disorders in medical practice. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 369.