How to Recognize Signs of Depression; How to Get the Help You Need

Feeling depressed? Is it something that will go away? Perhaps, if it is caused by a short-term problem in your life. But for many people, depression is a life-long ailment with deeper causes than just a bad time in their lives. In order to cope with depression and get the necesary help, we present information in this article to help you decide if this is something that needs outside intervention in the form of medical or psychological help. We'll give you the signs and symptoms of depression, how diagnosis is made, how depression is treated, and how medications can help make life manageable for sufferers of this affliction. Properly treated, people who suffer from depression can lead a relatively normal life. If you or someone you know and love seems to be depressed, you should find information here to point the way to diagnosis and treatment. Read on!

Signs and Symptoms

According to, there are two main signs of depression:

Loss of interest in normal daily activities.
Depressed Mood: feeling sad, helpless or hopeless.

Additionally, most of the following symptoms must also be present for a period of more than two weeks:

Sleep Disturbances
Impaired Thinking or Concentration
Changes in Weight; unexplained weight loss or gain.
Agitation; restless, irritated, agitated,easily annoyed.
Fatigue, Slowing of Body Movements
Low Self-Esteem
Loss of Interest in Sex
Thoughts of Death

There are several types of depression. The main ones include Major Depression, Dysthymia, Adjustment Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. A separate articles will deal with these specific types of depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you exhibit the above signs, or know someone who does, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. The doctor may first give a complete physical exam to rule out the possibility that a physical ailment is mimicking the symptoms of depression. If physical causes have been ruled out, the doctor will probably refer this patient to a specialist (psychiatrist) who specializes in mental illness. In severe cases, the patient may be hospitalized.

Treatment may include medications, psychotherapy, or both, depending on the severity of the depression. Both treatments are often very helpful in mild to moderate forms of depression, while medication usually takes care of the more severe forms. Often, doctors will treat the depressed patient in two stages: acute medication first, to relieve symptoms until the patient feels better again; then a maintenance level of medication for a period of four to nine months. Even though you feel well, it's important to keep up with the medication for as long as the doctor prescribes. Repeat episodes of depression occur in the majority of people who have had one episode, so continuing the medication greatly reduces the risk of an immediate relapse. If the patient has had two or more episodes, long-term medication is usually recommended.

Psychotherapy is often recommended to help the patient deal with a specific condition that caused the episode of depression to occur. This is generally a short-term procedure, unless a more major cause of the depression is identified, such as an inability to get along with others. Other types of therapy that may be used will depend on the patient and the disorder. Electroconvulsive therapy may conjure up former practices that seemed less humane, but today's form of this therapy is generally safe and effective. It's used for patients who don't respond to medications, are a high risk threat for suicide, or older patients who are unable to take antidepressants due to other medications or illnesses. Light therapy is used for sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Living With Depression

It's important to follow these steps even though you are now being treated for depression:

See Your Doctor Regularly
It's important to maintain regular appointments with your doctor. He will monitor your progress, provide support and encouragement, and can readily see when a change in medication or dosage is needed.

Take Your Medications
It is important to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. It may take a few weeks to hit on the right one and the right dosage. Be sure to follow your doctor's orders.

Don't Become Isolated
Resume normal activities and see others. It's important to keep up with interests and people as you did before this illness.

Take Care Of Yourself
Eat properly, get the right amount of sleep, and don't forget to include exercise in your daily plan. It's also important to avoid drugs and alcohal.

Depression is an illness, but is treatable and allows the patient to live a full life if he receives proper diagnosis and treatment and follows the doctor's orders.

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