What Do You Do If Your Depressed – Everyone feels sad or sad at times, but these feelings usually pass with time. Depression (also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression) varies. It can cause serious symptoms that affect how you feel, think, sleep, eat, and manage your daily activities. It is a disease that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. Research has shown that genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors contribute to depression.
Depression can occur with other mental disorders, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and chronic pain. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes the medications taken for these conditions can cause side effects that can affect the symptoms of depression.
What Do You Do If Your Depressed
If you or someone you know needs help urgently or is thinking about harming themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
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To be diagnosed with depression, a person must have five symptoms of depression every day, almost every day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms should be depression or lack of interest or enjoyment in almost any activity. Children and young people may be more upset than sad.
If you think you may be depressed, talk to your healthcare provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask you when your symptoms started, how long they last, how often they occur, and whether they prevent you from going out or doing your normal activities. It may be helpful to make a note of your symptoms before you go. Certain medications and certain medical conditions, such as viruses and thyroid disease, can cause symptoms of depression. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by performing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read tips for talking to your healthcare provider. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
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Children with depression may worry, become angry, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to their parents, or worry that the parent may die.
Older children and adolescents with depression may have trouble at school, are bored, easily upset, restless, or have low self-esteem. They may also have other disorders, such as anxiety, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorders. Older children and teenagers are more likely to have excessive sleepiness (called hypersomia) and increased appetite (called hyperphagia). Females experience depression more often than males during adolescence, and this is due not only to female biology, life cycle and hormonal factors.
Young adults with depression often complain of irritability, weight gain, insomnia, and negative attitudes about life and the future. They often have other disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, or substance use disorder.
Middle-aged adults with depression experience more depression, decreased libido, and insomnia or early morning awakenings. They may also report more frequent gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
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Older adults with depression often feel sad, depressed, or have other obvious symptoms. They report emotional deprivation rather than depression. Older adults are more likely to have other illnesses and pain that can cause depression. In severe cases, memory and thinking problems (called pseudodementia) may be noticeable.
Treatment for depression often involves medication, psychotherapy, or both. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be an alternative treatment option. In mild cases of depression, treatment may begin with psychotherapy and medication alone if symptoms persist. For moderate to severe depression, many psychiatrists recommend a combination of medication and therapy early in treatment.
Choosing the right treatment plan is based on a person’s individual needs and medical conditions under the care of their healthcare provider. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. You can learn more about different types of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation, on the depression website. For information on how to find a mental health professional and questions to ask when seeking treatment, visit the Psychotherapy webpage.
Antidepressants are drugs commonly used to treat depression. They take time to work—usually four to eight weeks—and symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood increases. It’s important to give a drug a chance before deciding whether it’s effective or not.
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Please note: Some people, especially children, teenagers, and young adults, may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior while taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting the medication or when the dose is changed. All patients taking antidepressants should be closely monitored, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.
Drug information is constantly changing. Visit the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for the latest warnings, patient drug instructions, and newly approved drugs.
Treatment-resistant depression occurs when there is no improvement after using at least two antidepressants. Esketamine is a new FDA-approved medication for treatment-resistant depression that is delivered as a nasal spray in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinics. It usually works quickly – usually within two hours – to relieve symptoms of depression. People often continue to take oral antidepressants to improve depression.
Another option for treatment-resistant depression is to use a different type of medication to make the antidepressant more effective, such as an antipsychotic or anticonvulsant, or an antidepressant such as bupropion, which has a different effect than others.
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Medications prescribed for depression can have side effects, but they tend to decrease over time. Talk to your provider about any side effects. Do not stop taking medicine without medical advice. If you suddenly stop taking the medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
The FDA has not approved natural products for depression. While research continues, some people are finding natural products to help with depression, such as vitamin D and St. John’s wort herbal supplements. Don’t use St. John’s wort or other supplements for depression before talking to your doctor. For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.
Psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy” or “counseling”) teaches people with depression new ways of thinking and behaving, and helps them change the habits that lead to depression. Most psychotherapy is done in one-on-one sessions with a licensed and trained mental health professional or in a group setting with other people. Two effective psychotherapies for depression include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Limited use of older psychotherapy techniques, such as dynamic therapy, can help some people with depression.
With CBT, people learn to challenge and change unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors to improve feelings of depression and anxiety. Recent advances in CBT have incorporated the principles of mindfulness to create specific forms of treatment that target specific symptoms, such as insomnia.
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IPT affects interpersonal relationships and life events, and vice versa. The goal of IPT is to help people improve their communication skills in relationships, build a social support network, and develop realistic expectations to help them cope with crises or other problems that may lead to depression.
Brain stimulation therapy, which involves directly stimulating or inhibiting the brain with electrical or magnetic waves, is another option for some people when other treatments for depression don’t work.
The most common forms of brain stimulation include electroconvulsive therapy and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Other brain stimulation treatments are new and in some cases still experimental.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a Behavioral Health Care Locator, an online tool for finding mental health treatment and support groups in your area. For additional resources, visit the Mental Illness Support webpage.
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After starting treatment, you should begin to gradually improve. Take it easy during this time. Try doing something you used to love. Even if you don’t feel like doing them, they can improve your mood. Other things that can help:
If someone you know is suffering from depression, help them see a health care provider or psychiatrist. You also:
Take suicidal thoughts seriously and tell your loved one’s caregiver or therapist. If they are in immediate distress or are thinking of harming themselves, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
A clinical trial is a research study that looks for new ways to prevent, detect, or treat a disease or condition. Although individuals may benefit from participating in clinical trials, participants should be aware that the main purpose of clinical trials is to gain new scientific knowledge so that they can better help others in the future.
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Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health
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