What is depression?
After anxiety, depression is the second most common mental health disorder. It is characterized by an intense feeling of sadness.
Someone with major depression experience the following symptoms nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer:
If you're depressed, you may also have headaches, other aches and pains, digestive problems and problems with sex. An older person with depression may feel confused or have trouble understanding simple requests.
What causes depression?
Depression seems to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it hard for the cells to communicate with one another. Depression also seems to be hereditary (to run in families).
Depression can be linked to stressful events in your life, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce or loss of you a job. Taking certain medicines, abusing drugs or alcohol or having other illnesses can also lead to depression. Depression isn't caused by personal weakness, laziness or lack of willpower.
Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. This can be related to hormonal changes that affect mood.
How is depression treated?
Depression can be treated with medicines, with counseling or with both.
Antidepressants correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.
Antidepressants work differently for different people. They also have different side effects. So, even if one medicine bothers you or doesn't work for you, another may help. You may notice improvement as soon as 1 week after you start taking the medicine. But you probably won't see the full effects for about 8 to 12 weeks. You may have side effects at first but they tend to decrease after a couple of weeks.
How long you'll need to take the medicine depends on your depression. Your doctor may want you to take medicine for 4 to 6 months or longer. You need to take the medicine long enough to reduce the chance that the depression will come back. Talk with your doctor about any questions you have about your medicine
How long will the depression last?
This depends on how soon you get help. Left untreated, depression can last for weeks, months or even years. The main risk in not getting treatment is suicide. Treatment can help depression lift in 8 to 12 weeks, or less.
Getting through depression
Reasons to get help for depression
St. John’s Wort
Vitamin B Complex