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topic covers depression in adults. For information on:
What is depression?
an illness that causes you to feel sad, lose interest in activities that
you've always enjoyed, withdraw from others, and have little energy. It's
different from normal feelings of sadness,
grief, or low energy. Depression can also cause people
to feel hopeless about the future and even think about suicide.
Many people, and sometimes their families, feel embarrassed or ashamed
about having depression. Don't let these feelings stand in the way of getting
treatment. Remember that depression is a common illness. It affects the
young and old, men and women, all ethnic groups, and all professions.
If you think you may be depressed, tell your doctor. Treatment can help
you enjoy life again. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will feel
What causes depression?
Depression is a disease.
It's not caused by personal weakness and is not a character flaw. When you have
depression, chemicals in your brain called
neurotransmitters are out of balance.
Most experts believe that a combination of family history (your
genes) and stressful life events may cause depression.
Life events can include a death in the family or having a long-term health problem.
Just because you have a family member with depression or
have stressful life events doesn't mean you'll get depression.
You also may get depressed even if there is no reason you can think of.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of depression
may be hard to notice at first. They vary among people, and you may confuse
them with just feeling "off" or with another health problem.
two most common symptoms of depression are:
- Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day for
at least 2 weeks.
- Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from
most daily activities that you used to enjoy, and feeling this way nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
A serious symptom of depression is thinking about death
or suicide. If you or someone you care about talks about this or about feeling
hopeless, get help right away.
If you think
you may have depression, take a short quiz to check your symptoms:
- Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed?
How is it treated?
Depression can be treated in
various ways. Counseling, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medicines can all be used. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, also may help.
your health care team to find the best treatment for you. It may take a few
tries, and it can take several weeks for the medicine and therapy to start working. Try to
be patient and keep following your treatment plan.
return (relapse). How likely you are to get depression again
increases each time you have a bout of depression.
Taking your medicines and continuing some types of therapy after you feel
better can help keep that from happening. Some people need to take medicine for
the rest of their lives. This doesn't stop them from living full and happy
What can you do if a loved one has depression?
someone you care for is depressed, the best thing you can do is help the person
get or stay in treatment. Learn about the disease. Talk to the person, and
gently encourage him or her to do things and see people. Don't get upset with
the person. The behavior you see is the disease, not the person.
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