What is depression?
Depression is a medical condition that causes feelings of sadness or hopelessness that do not go away. Depression may cause you to lose interest in things you used to enjoy. These feelings may interfere with your daily life.
What causes or increases my risk for depression?
Depression may be caused by changes in brain chemicals that affect your mood. Your risk of depression may be higher if you have any of the following:
- Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, unemployment, childhood trauma, divorce, or domestic abuse
- A chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer
- Parents, siblings, or other family members with a history of depression
- Drug or alcohol abuse
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- Appetite changes, or weight gain or loss
- Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feeling restless, irritable, or withdrawn
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, discouraged, or very guilty
- Trouble concentrating, remembering things, doing daily tasks, or making decisions
- Thoughts about hurting or killing yourself
How is depression diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and how long you have had them. He will ask if you have any family members with depression. He may also ask if you have had stressful events in your life. Tell him if you have other health conditions and the names of any medicines you take.
How is depression treated?
- Therapy may be used to treat your depression. A therapist will help you learn to cope with your thoughts and feelings. This can be done alone or in a group. It may also be done with family members or a significant other.
- Antidepressant medicine may be given to improve or balance your mood. You may need to take this medicine for several weeks before you begin to feel better. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects or problems you have with your medicine. Sometimes the type or amount of medicine may need to be changed.
How can I manage depression?
- Get regular physical activity. Try to exercise for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week. Work with your healthcare provider to develop an exercise plan that you enjoy. Physical activity may improve your symptoms.
- Get enough sleep. Create a routine to help you relax before bed. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sleep is important for emotional health.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups. A healthy meal plan is low in fat, salt, and added sugar. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about a meal plan that is right for you.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- Your medicine is not helping to improve your mood.
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care or call 911?
- You think about harming yourself or someone else.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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