Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
- Feeling of hopelessness or pessimism.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
- Decreased energy or fatigue.
- Moving or talking more slowly.
- Feeling restless or having troubles sitting still.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
- Appetite and/or weight changes.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause.
The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.
Depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of depression.
- Major life changes, trauma or stress.
- Certain physical illnesses and medications.
Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood.
The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.
Depression is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.
Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will often be considered.
Antidepressants take time (usually 2 to 4 weeks) to work and often symptoms such as sleep, appetite and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness.
Several types of pshychotherapy can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression iclude cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) and problem-solving therapy.
Beyond treatment: Things you can do.
Here are other tips that may help you during treatment for depression:
- Try to be active and exercise.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Try to spend time with otherpeople and confide in a trusted frien or relative.
- Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not inmediately.
- Postpone important decissions.