Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, and in 2017, more than 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents (ages 12 to 17) had a major depressive episode, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
It is important to understand that every depressive disorder can be diagnosed and treated by professionals through a combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, and–in some cases–medication. Asking for help is the first step toward getting better and reclaiming your life from depression.
Signs Of Depression
Anyone can experience clinical depression at some point in life, and it can affect everyone from children to teenagers to older adults in long-term care. Depression is caused by a range of biological, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors, and each person’s symptoms may vary.
Women are more prone to developing depression because of hormonal factors, and their depression commonly manifests as feelings of low energy, sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. Men may be more tired, feel angry or irritable, and may lose interest in activities they used to care about; many men don’t recognize these symptoms as depression and go without treatment. When experiencing depression, teens may seem moody, withdrawn, or unwilling to listen or cooperate in school or at home; children can “cling” to their parents more often or worry more than normal.
Each person will experience depression in a unique way, but there are certain symptoms that can help people identify depression.
If you aren’t sure if what you’re feeling is depression or not, these are common signs of depression:
- Feeling hopeless, numb, or empty
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Low energy and fatigue
- Body aches
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleeping too much or struggling to sleep
- Anxiety and/or irritability
- Trouble focusing or making decisions
- Thinking about dying or taking your life
A primary care provider may recognize signs of depression during an annual checkup, or a loved one might notice the signs of depression first. Your doctor may have to order tests to rule out other possible conditions, especially if your symptoms are physical (like body aches, fatigue, and sleep issues).
Once other conditions are ruled out, you may speak with a therapist to be diagnosed with depression. A psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose depression by using a diagnostic survey or speaking with you about your symptoms to determine the severity and type of depressive disorder and decide the best course of treatment.
Treatment For Depression
Treatment for depression begins by asking for help. Once you get past that first (and hardest) step, the next step is to have a therapy session with a psychologist or psychiatrist to determine how to treat your condition. You might meet regularly with your therapist for talk therapy to discuss how you are feeling and try to address external factors (or underlying traumas) that might be contributing to your depression. A psychiatrist might also prescribe antidepressant medications to help stabilize your mood and reduce symptoms to put you in a better position to make progress during therapy sessions.
Treating depression may take time, and antidepressants typically take two to four weeks before there is a noticeable improvement in symptoms. You will work with your psychiatrist closely to treat your depression, and you may have to tweak your approach over time, but depression does not have to last forever. You do not have to try to deal with depression on your own or wait for it to go away. Get help before your condition gets worse, and start feeling better sooner.
We know that, sometimes, even going out in public can feel impossible because of depression, so we want to remove any barriers to treatment; we want to help you start getting better as soon as possible. We are just one phone call (or a few clicks) away–contact us to see how we can help you.