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Help for Depression

Depression is a common but serious mental health disorder that can severely impact every area of a person’s life, from how they think and feel to how they behave. Getting help for depression may be the bravest step you can take. 

 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting an estimated 16.3 million adults each year. Depression is treatable, but only about one-third of people who suffer from the condition seek professional help for depression. While the disorder is very serious, it is treatable. The Mental Health Center of San Diego has multiple effective treatment options available to help a person overcome depression.

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What is Depression?

Also called Clinical Depression, Depressive Disorder is more than just feeling sad or “blue” for a few days. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks, and a depressive spell can become so bad that people begin to contemplate suicide.

Clinical depression can happen after traumatic experiences, or for no reason at all, and episodes also tend to be reoccurring. You can’t always just “snap out” of a depressive episode, you need professional help otherwise the symptoms can feel unbearable.

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What are the Symptoms of Depression?

When most people think of depression, they think of sadness. And while sadness is certainly a symptom of depression, it is by no means the only one. In fact, there are many different symptoms of depression, and they can vary from person to person. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of all the potential signs and symptoms of this mental illness.

1. Persistent Sadness or Irritability

One of the most common symptoms of depression is an overarching feeling of sadness or irritability.

2. Loss of Interest in Activities You Once Enjoyed

Another common symptom of depression is a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed.

3. Difficulty Concentrating

Depression can also make it difficult to concentrate on anything, whether it's work, school, or even a conversation with a friend.

4. Fatigue or decreased energy

If you're struggling to get out of bed in the morning or find yourself wanting to take a nap in the middle of the day, it could be a sign that you're depressed.

5. Appetite changes

Some people with depression lose their appetite altogether and end up losing weight as a result. Others find themselves overeating and gaining weight.

6. Sleep changes

Changes in sleep patterns are also common among those suffering from depression. Some people have trouble falling asleep at night while others find themselves waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep.

7. Aches and pains

Depression can also manifest itself as physical pain throughout the body, including headaches, stomachaches, and back pain.

8 . Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

Feelings like there's nothing good left in life or like there's nothing you can do to change your circumstances, could be linked to an underlying case of depression.

9 . Suicidal thoughts or attempts

While not every person who experiences suicidal thoughts is necessarily depressed, suicidal ideation is definitely one possible symptom associated with this mental illness.

If you’ve been having thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life, please reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away. They provide 24/7 support for those in crisis and can be reached by dialing 9-8-8.

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What Causes Depression?

Some people associate depression with a chemical imbalance, but the disease is much more complicated. New research suggests that depression isn’t spurred merely by having too little or too much specific brain chemicals.

In fact, there are millions – billions, even – of chemical reactions that are responsible for your mood, responses, and how you perceive life. With this level of complexity, you can see why two people might experience depression differently and react differently to forms of treatment.

However, some risk factors do influence one’s susceptibility to depression.

Risk Factors Influencing Depression

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BIOCHEMISTRY:

Differences in certain brain chemicals and imbalances may enhance symptoms of depression.

help for depression

GENETICS:

Depression and suicidal ideation can run in families. For example, if someone’s parent has a major depressive disorder, their child has a 70 percent chance of experiencing the illness sometime in life.

help for depression

PERSONALITY:

People who exhibit low self-esteem, are sent into a rage or overwhelmed by everyday stresses, or have a pessimistic outlook on life appear to be more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

help for depression

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS:

Environment can trigger a depressive episode. Continuous exposure to neglect, abuse, poverty, or tumultuous circumstances may make some people more vulnerable to depression.

How is Depression Diagnosed

There are several ways that a doctor can diagnose depression. The first step is usually to conduct a physical exam to rule out any other possible causes for the symptoms.

Physical Exam: The doctor will also ask about your medical history and any family history of mental illness. They will want to know about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them. Be as honest and as specific as possible in your answers.

Psychological evaluation: This evaluation may include questions about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The purpose of this evaluation is to get a better understanding of your symptoms and how they are impacting your life. The doctor may also ask you to complete a questionnaire about your symptoms.

Based on all of this information, the doctor will be able to determine whether or not you are suffering from depression. If they believe you are depressed, they will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

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Help for Depression

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for depression, treatments generally fall into two categories: medication and psychotherapy. In some cases, a combination of the two may be recommended. The type of treatment that’s right for you depends on the severity of your symptoms, your preferences, and any other health conditions you may have.

Medications

Antidepressants are the most common type of medication used to treat depression. They can help improve your mood and give you more energy.

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for antidepressant medications to start working. If you don't notice any improvement after that time, your doctor may recommend increasing the dosage or trying a different type of medication. Some people need to try several different medications before they find one that works for them.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or counseling) involves meeting with a mental health professional to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. Psychotherapy can help you identify negative thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to your depression and replace them with healthier ones.

In some cases, group therapy may be recommended. This involves meeting with other people who are dealing with similar issues under the guidance of a therapist. Group therapy can provide support and allow you to share your experiences with others who understand what you're going through.

Getting Help for Depression at the Mental Health Center of San Diego

If you think you might be depressed, the first step is to call the Mental Health Center of San Diego at (858) 258-9883. We will have a doctor assess your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

With proper treatment, most people with depression will start to feel better within a few weeks. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your symptoms—the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you’ll start feeling better.