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Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.
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Depression – What is It and How Can It Affect You?
Depression is a common mental health problem that can affect anyone at any age. It may be mild or severe, and it is often accompanied by other symptoms. If you are feeling sad or hopeless, it is important to seek help from a professional. It is not normal to feel down or depressed all of the time and it can lead to a lot of health problems.
Depression can happen to anyone at any time and is more likely to happen in people who are older, have less education, have a family history of depression or have a medical illness or chronic pain. It can also be caused by stress and certain life events, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. It can also be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is why people with low levels of a specific neurotransmitter called serotonin have more depression-like symptoms.
Symptoms of depression can be severe and last for months or longer. They can include feelings of sadness, worthlessness, low energy and difficulty concentrating. They can affect every area of your life and make it hard to function normally. You may have a lot of trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, and you might have appetite changes or weight loss.
Treatment for depression is usually a combination of psychotherapy, medication and self-help methods. Some people get relief with just counseling, while others need to take antidepressants for long periods of time. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of your depression and how often you relapse.
Therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, helps you understand what’s going on and how to change your behavior to improve your mood. It can also help you develop coping skills and prevent depression from coming back.
Drugs for depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), can help ease depression by increasing the amount of a chemical in your brain. SSRIs, such as Prozac and Celexa, can help improve your mood by helping the body produce more serotonin. TCAs, such as amitriptyline, amoxapine and desipramine, can also help.
Your doctor or a mental health professional can diagnose depression by examining you and asking questions about your symptoms. They will use the criteria for depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to determine if you have depression. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam and do lab tests to find out if you have an underlying medical condition or other issues.
Genetics, hormones and environmental factors can also cause or trigger depression. Depression can be more likely in people with certain types of inherited traits or those who live in situations that are stressful, such as being homeless or living in poor conditions. It can also be more likely in women who are pregnant or have had a child and are going through menopause.