Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating for the people who have it and for their families. Some people have only one episode in a lifetime, but for most people depression recurs. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years.
The common feature in depressive disorders is the presence of sad, empty, or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual's capacity to function.
It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved. Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.
Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:
For most people, anxiety changes how they function day-to-day. People can experience one or more of the following symptoms:
The presentation of children up to 12 years of age with chronic, severe persistent irritability and frequent episodes of extreme behavioral dyscontrol. Children with this symptom pattern typically develop depressive or anxiety disorders as they mature into adolescent and adulthood.
Characterized by discrete episodes of at least 2 weeks duration involving clear-cut daily changes in affect, cognition, and daily functions such as eating, sleeping and hygiene. Careful consideration is given to the delineation of normal sadness and grief.
Persistent Depressive Disorder is a depressed mood that occurs for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least 2 years in adults or 1 year in children.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder begins sometime following ovulation and remits within a few days of menses and has marked impact on functioning. The essential features are the expression of mood lability, irritability, dysphoria, and anxiety symptoms that occur repeatedly during the premenstrual phase of the cycle.
Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for you. Many types of antidepressants are available, including those below. Be sure to discuss possible major side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally, a short-term treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills to improve your symptoms and gradually return to the activities you've avoided because of anxiety.
CBT includes exposure therapy, in which you gradually encounter the object or situation that triggers your anxiety so you build confidence that you can manage the situation and anxiety symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend combining two antidepressants or adding medications such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. Anti-anxiety and stimulant medications also may be added for short-term use.
While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes also can make a difference. Here's what you can do:
Take steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and boost your self-esteem.
Reach out to family and friends, especially in times of crisis, to help you weather rough spells.
Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening.
Consider getting long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
Visit our Get Help page to learn about options for receiving immediate help.
Schedule an appointment to meet with a licensed counselor.
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