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Symptoms and Treatment of Depression
Depression is a mental disorder that affects the way you feel. It can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt and make it hard to think clearly. It can also lead to trouble with work or relationships. But it is treatable. You can get better with medicine, therapy or a combination of both. And you can help prevent a recurrence by getting treatment at the first sign of symptoms.
Symptoms of depression include sadness, hopelessness or guilt, difficulty thinking clearly, feeling tired all the time, and trouble with sleeping. It may also cause feelings of irritability, anger or recklessness. In children, depressed kids may become withdrawn and cry easily or behave differently. In teens, it can lead to school refusal, acting out in class and abusing drugs or alcohol.
If you have symptoms of depression, you should see your doctor. They’ll ask you about your symptoms and medical history, and do a physical exam. They may also order blood tests to rule out a thyroid problem or vitamin deficiency that can cause depression-like symptoms.
People with depression can benefit from psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medicines. Therapy can help you learn to change the negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression. It can also teach you healthy coping skills and ways to deal with stress.
Medication can ease the symptoms of depression by increasing the amount of certain chemical messengers in your brain. There are several different kinds of antidepressants. The older ones, called tricyclic antidepressants, were the first to be used. The newer ones are called SSRIs or SNRIs. There are also other medications that don’t belong to any group, as well as herbal remedies like St. John’s wort.
It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for these medicines to begin working. Don’t stop taking them unless your doctor tells you to. Suddenly stopping can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.
If your depression is severe, a hospital stay may be needed. Psychiatric treatments at the hospital can keep you safe and calm until your mood improves. Partial hospitalization and day treatment programs may also be helpful.
You might be able to help researchers find new ways to prevent, diagnose or treat depression by participating in a clinical trial. These studies test whether a new treatment, device or procedure is safe and works for the general population. Talk to your doctor about clinical trials and whether they might be right for you. If you do participate in a clinical trial, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions exactly. If you don’t, you might hurt yourself or others or not receive the benefits of the study. Mayo Clinic health professionals are leaders in research advancements, current health topics and expert advice for managing your health. Sign up for free to get the latest tips and tricks for staying healthy.