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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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What You Need to Know About Depression
Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects the entire body, including your thoughts and feelings. It’s not a weakness or character flaw, and it’s not going to go away on its own. It needs treatment to stay in remission and get better.
There’s No Single Cause
Depression can happen without a clear trigger, and it tends to run in families. Studies show that people who have one depressive episode are more likely to have another one later on.
The symptoms of depression can be intense and last for weeks, months or even years. They may interfere with work, school or other activities and with social relationships. They can also make it difficult to get enough sleep or to eat.
They can be so severe that a person thinks about suicide. Suicidal ideation is a big sign that you need help, so it’s important to talk to your doctor right away.
Symptoms of Depression
Feelings of sadness or loss, lack of interest in most things, a lack of energy and a low self-esteem can be signs that you’re depressed. It’s not normal to feel this way all the time, and if it’s interfering with your life, you need to see your doctor.
Your doctor will do a mental health exam to find out what’s happening in your brain and what’s making you feel this way. They’ll also check your medical history and lab work, such as bloodwork.
There are different types of depression, from a milder condition known as cyclothymic disorder to more severe conditions such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Your doctor will look at your symptoms, how they’re impacting your life and other factors to determine what type of depression you have.
You can’t “snap out of” depression, but it’s treatable with medication or psychotherapy. Most people respond to treatment and feel better.
Treatment is often needed for a long time, and it may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you.
Medications can help you feel better by changing the way your brain works. They work by increasing the amount of chemicals in your brain that control your mood and behavior. They also can help you sleep, manage your appetite and reduce the symptoms of depression.
Therapy can also help you manage your symptoms and learn new ways to cope with them. It can also help you find ways to deal with problems that may be causing your depression.
Your doctor may recommend psychotherapy and antidepressants or a combination of the two, depending on what’s working for you. If you’re taking antidepressants, it’s important to stick to your medication plan and don’t stop them unless directed by your doctor.
Other treatments can include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and other brain stimulation therapies. These are used only when other types of therapy haven’t worked.
The goal of treatment is to help you feel better so you can function normally again. It’s not an easy process, but it can help you recover and get back to a normal life.