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NIMH » Depression

Depression major depressive disorder or clinical depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:. If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:.

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U, nih articles. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children. These conditions are often worse when depression is present, nih articles. Sometimes medications taken for these physical nih articles may cause side effects that contribute to depression.

A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy. Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medicationsnih articles, psychotherapyor a combination of the two.

If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy ECT and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore, nih articles.

Quick Tip: No two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no "one-size-fits-all" for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression, nih articles. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects, nih articles.

A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will often be considered. Antidepressants take time — usually 2 to 4 weeks — to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion nih articles its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a doctor.

Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and then stop taking the medication on their own, and the depression returns. When you and your doctor have decided it is time to stop the medication, usually after nih articles course of 6 to 12 months, the doctor will help you slowly and safely decrease your dose.

Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms. Please Note: In some cases, children, nih articles, teenagers, and young nih articles under 25 may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. This warning from the U. Food and Drug Administration FDA also says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

If you are considering taking an antidepressant and you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about any increased health risks to you or your unborn or nursing child.

To find the latest information about antidepressants, talk to your doctor and visit www. You nih articles have heard about an herbal medicine called St, nih articles. John's wort. Although it is a top-selling botanical product, the FDA has not approved its use as an over-the-counter or prescription medicine for depression, nih articles, and there are serious concerns about its safety it should never be combined with a prescription antidepressant and effectiveness, nih articles.

Do not nih articles St, nih articles. Other natural products sold as dietary supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and S-adenosylmethionine SAMeremain under study but have not yet been proven safe and effective for routine use, nih articles.

Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy Nih articlesinterpersonal therapy IPTand problem-solving therapy. If medications do not reduce the symptoms of depression, electroconvulsive therapy ECT may be an option to explore. Based on the latest research:. Other more recently introduced types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat medicine-resistant depression include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation rTMS and vagus nerve stimulation VNS, nih articles.

Other types of brain stimulation treatments are under study, nih articles. If you nih articles you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor nih articles health care provider. This could be your primary care practitioner or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, nih articles treat diseases and conditions, including depression.

During clinical trials, nih articles, some participants receive treatments under study that might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although nih articles participants may benefit from being nih articles of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose nih articles a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Doctors at NIMH are dedicated to mental health research, including clinical trials nih articles possible new treatments as well as studies to understand the causes and effects of depression.

After the initial phone interview, you will come to an appointment at the clinic and meet with one of our clinicians, nih articles. To search for a clinical nih articles near you, you can visit ClinicalTrials, nih articles. This is a searchable registry and results database of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world search: depression. This information should be used in conjunction with advice from health professionals.

Unless otherwise specified, NIMH information and publications are in the public domain and available for use free nih articles charge. Citation of the NIMH is appreciated. Hours: a. Skip to content. Mental Health Information.

About Us. Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as: Persistent depressive disorder also called dysthymia is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years, nih articles. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must nih articles for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.

Women with postpartum depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery postpartum depression. Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs delusions or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see hallucinations. Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression nih articles the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.

This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, nih articles, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably nih articles every year in seasonal affective disorder. Risk factors include: Personal or family history of depression Major life changes, trauma, or stress Certain physical illnesses and medications.

What are Clinical Nih articles Please Note: Decisions about whether to participate in a clinical trial, and which ones are best suited for a given individual, are best made in collaboration with your licensed health professional, nih articles. Depression and Older Adults : Depression is not a normal part of aging. This brochure describes the signs, nih articles, symptoms, and treatment options for depression in older adults. Depression: What You Need to Know : This booklet contains information on depression including signs and symptoms, treatment and support options, and a listing of additional resources.

Postpartum Depression Facts : A brochure on postpartum depression that explains its causes, symptoms, treatments, and how to get help. Teen Depression : This flier for teens describes depression and how it differs from regular sadness. It also describes symptoms, causes, nih articles, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping. Statistics: Major Depression : This webpage provides information on the statistics currently available on the prevalence and treatment of depression among nih articles in the U.

Watch: One Woman's Experience With Depression : This video by the National Institute on Aging tells the story of an older woman who struggled for years with depression, but who is now in recovery.

Learn more about older adults and depression. Last Revised: February Unless otherwise specified, NIMH information and publications are in the public domain and available for use free of charge.


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