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Depression – Causes, Treatment and Symptoms
Depression is a common mental disorder that affects the way you think, feel and behave. This condition can be very debilitating, and it is important to get help as soon as possible if you are suffering from it.
Causes of depression vary between people, but it is usually the result of a combination of factors. These include biological, psychological and environmental factors. Having a family history of depression or another mental health condition is one of the most significant risk factors. Life events such as bereavement, divorce and loss of a job can also increase your chances of developing depression.
Treatment for depression varies between people, but it is usually effective. Medicines, therapy and exercise are often used together to treat depression.
The most effective medicines for depression are called antidepressants, which can reduce symptoms such as irritability, sleep disturbance and poor appetite. These medicines work by affecting the brain chemicals that regulate mood and behaviour. They have to be taken regularly for 4 to 6 weeks before they have a full effect. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about which medicine will work best for you, and to follow the instructions carefully.
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person, but a number of signs can be helpful in detecting the condition. Irritability, aggression, poor concentration, sleeping too much or not enough, feelings of worthlessness, anger and self-harm are all common – although the severity and number of symptoms will vary from person to person.
If you have these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you should contact your healthcare professional or counselor to find out if you might be depressed. If you have these symptoms for more than a few weeks and are having suicidal thoughts, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Your doctor will ask you questions and perform a thorough diagnostic evaluation. This will explore your medical and family history as well as your environmental and cultural influences, with the aim of arriving at a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
You will probably need to make changes to your lifestyle, such as getting more exercise, eating healthy foods and taking more time to relax. These changes can help to reduce your symptoms and give you a better quality of life.
Some treatments are more effective for certain types of depression than others, and it can take some trial and error to discover the combination that works best for you. Some drugs, such as lithium, are effective in treating severe depression and may be a good choice for you if other medicines do not work.
The earlier you start treatment, the more likely you are to benefit from it. You should talk to your healthcare professional as soon as you suspect you have depression, and be prepared to try many different types of treatments before settling on a course that works best for you.
Depression can be treated with a variety of treatments, including medication, counseling and alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback. Getting regular physical activity and spending time with friends and family are also known to improve the symptoms of depression.