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May 23, 2017 | Family Medicine
Also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, depression is a mood disorder that leads to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and/or loss of interest. It affects people of all ages and can impact how you feel, think and behave.
Depression can lead to several different emotional and physical problems, including difficulty completing day-to-day activities. It often requires long-term treatment, but there are also tactics you can try to help cope with many of the symptoms.
Depression can occur at any point in life—it can be a single occurrence, but many people experience multiple episodes throughout their lives. During depressive episodes, many of the following symptoms occur almost constantly:
Younger children and teenagers can also have depression, and symptoms will be similar to those listed above. They may also include:
Depression symptoms in older adults often go unreported—many people are reluctant to seek help. Symptoms that may help signal it, in addition to those above, include:
If you feel depressed or notice these symptoms in someone close to you, make an appointment with your doctor. If you’re worried you or a loved one might hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 right away.
Depression can take a major toll on people and can lead to several complications including:
Exact causes of depression aren’t known, though factors like biology, brain chemistry, hormones and various genetic traits may play a role. There are several factors that appear to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression such as:
Treatment for depression typically centers around medication and psychological counseling. The exact application of these tactics vary greatly based on individual needs—in some serious cases, a hospital stay or residential treatment might be appropriate.
Coping with depression can be very difficult, but some strategies can help:
When you’re feeling depressed, avoid making important decisions.
Many of these same themes apply to help prevent depression, though there is no surefire way to prevent it all the time. If you’re worried you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of depression, speak to your doctor and get help at the first sign of a problem.
As a physician, I love helping people through stressful times when they may be sick or hurt. I want to be the kind of doctor that I would want for my own family. When a doctor takes the time to help their patients understand what is happening and what the plan is, a patient’s anxiety can be greatly reduced. The patient should receive all the information they need to be an equal partner in decision-making and feel empowered about caring for their body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
“Depression (major depressive disorder).” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977
“Depression.” MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/depression.html
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.