Treatment for depression addresses a person’s unshakeable feelings of sadness and disinterest, as well as related physical, emotional and psychological problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 1 in 10 U.S adults experience symptoms that meet the criteria for depression.
The condition is a chronic illness that is significantly more serious than just a bout of short-term unhappiness or sadness, and is not usually something a person can easily “snap out of” or overcome without professional help.
Depression makes even the simplest of everyday activities difficult and can lead to the development of serious mental, emotional and physical problems.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Disinterest in everyday activities
- Lack of sex drive
- Changes in appetite (either lack of appetite or overeating)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Preoccupation with death, dying or suicide
- Lack of control over emotions
- Back pain
Symptoms usually vary from person to person, as everyone experiences the condition differently, and other factors, such as age, may impact how it affects a person.
To diagnose depression a doctor will typically use a combination of interview questions, physical examinations and psychological evaluations. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders lists criteria for the diagnosis of major depression, which is what most mental health providers use.
Treatment for depression may include medications, such as antidepressants, psychological counseling, overnight treatment programs, and electrical or magnetic therapy techniques.
Antidepressants are among the most common types of treatment for depression and can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and others.
All antidepressants work in various ways to alter the patterns of the chemicals that occur naturally in the brain. By doing this the antidepressant can positively impact a person’s mood.
Finding the right antidepressant can take some trial and error, so it’s important the patient and doctor communicate well to determine whether a particular medication is effective. Most antidepressants require at least eight weeks of consistent use before their effectiveness can be determined. Additionally, some patients may experience undesirable side effects with a certain medication.
Be sure to discuss the risks of taking antidepressants with your doctor, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all such medications carry black box warnings (the FDA’s strictest level of warnings). Pregnant women should use extra precaution, since some antidepressants pose increased risks for the unborn child.
Treatment for depression usually requires long-term effort and commitment on both the part of the medical professional and the patient, however most people do experience improvement in their condition after following a treatment plan with consistency.
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