Depression: You Don't Have to Feel This Way
What is depression?
When doctors talk about depression, they mean the medical illness called major depression. Someone with major depression has symptoms like those listed below nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer. There is also a "minor" form of depression with less severe symptoms. Both have the same causes and treatment.
If you're depressed, you may also have headaches, other aches and pains, digestive problems and problems with sex. An older person with depression may feel confused or have trouble understanding simple requests.
Symptoms of depression
What causes depression?
Your brain has chemicals that help control your moods. Depression seems to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it hard for the cells to communicate with one another. When you don't have enough of these chemicals or when your brain doesn't respond to them properly, you may become depressed.
Depression can be genetic (meaning it can run in families). Abusing drugs or alcohol can also lead to depression. Some medical problems and medications can lead to depression.
Depression can be linked to events in your life, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce or job loss. Taking certain medicines, abusing drugs or alcohol, or having other illnesses can also lead to depression. Depression isn't caused by personal weakness, laziness or lack of willpower.
How is depression diagnosed?
Sometimes depression is first recognized by friends or family members.
If you're having symptoms of depression, be sure to tell your doctor so you can get help. Don't expect your doctor to be able to guess that you're depressed just by looking at you. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner the depression will lift.
Once you tell your doctor how you're feeling, he or she may ask you some questions about your symptoms, about your health and about your family history of health problems. Your doctor may also give you a physical exam and do some tests.
How will I know if I am depressed?
People who are depressed have most or all of the above symptoms nearly every day, all day, for 2 or more weeks. One of the symptoms must be depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities.
How is depression treated?
Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medicines called antidepressants can correct this imbalance. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant medicine for you, follow his or her advice on how to take it.
These medicines can take a few weeks
to start working, so be patient. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor before you
stop taking any medicine or if you have any unusual symptoms.
Depression can be treated with medicine or counseling, or with both. These treatments are very effective. Medicine may be particularly important for severe depression.
What if my doctor prescribes medicine?
Many medicines can be used to treat depression. These medicines are called antidepressants and they work very well. They correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.
Antidepressants work differently for different people. They also have different side effects.
So, even if one medicine bothers you or doesn't work for you, another may help. You may notice improvement as soon as 1 week after you start taking the medicine.
But you probably won't see the full effects for about 6 to 8 weeks. You may have side effects at first but they tend to lessen after a couple of weeks.
How long will I need medicine?
How long you'll need to take the medicine depends on your depression. Your doctor may want you to take medicine for 4 to 6 months or longer. You need to take the medicine long enough to reduce the chance that the depression will come back. Talk with your doctor about any questions you have about your medicine.
What is psychotherapy?
In psychotherapy, you talk with your family doctor, a psychiatrist or a therapist about things that are going on in your life. The focus may be on your thoughts and beliefs or on your relationships. Or the focus may be on your behavior, how it's affecting you and what you can do differently. Psychotherapy often lasts for a limited time, such as 8 to 20 visits.
Will I need to go to the hospital?
Depression can usually be treated through visits to your doctor. Treatment in the hospital may be needed if you have other medical conditions that could affect your treatment or if you're at high risk of suicide.
How long will the depression last?
This depends on how soon you get help. Left untreated, depression can last for weeks, months or even years. The main risk in not getting treatment is suicide. Treatment can help depression lift in 6 to 8 weeks, or less.
Getting through depression
What about suicide?
People with depression sometimes think about suicide. This thinking is part of the depression. If you have thoughts about hurting yourself, tell your doctor, friends or family, or call your local suicide hot line.
Get help right away. The good news is that there are people who can help you, and depression can be treated.
Reasons to get help for depression
Does treatment for depression usually work?
Yes. Treatment helps between 80% and 90% of people with depression.
Depression and Older Adults: What It Is and How to Get Help
Depression After a Heart Attack
Depression and Alzheimer's Disease
The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer . The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions
Copyright © 2004
Irene Nursing Home Pte Ltd