is full of changes. Everyday events and our reactions to them sometimes
interfere with our sense of well-being and peace of mind. It is common to get
the blues or become sad when disappointed. Symptoms of
depression are the most common medical problems seen
by health professionals. It is estimated that feelings of depression will
affect about one-third of all adults in the United States at some time in their
Most people experience feelings of sadness over such losses
as divorce or separation, the death of a friend or loved one, or a job change
or layoff. These feelings are an expected reaction to a "triggering event," and
most people get over them in time.
Several factors increase your
risk of developing feelings of depression, such as:
Symptoms of depression that may point to a need for treatment
vary from person to person. If you experience feelings of sadness or loss of
interest in pleasurable activities plus 4 or more of the following symptoms for
2 weeks or longer, you may be depressed.
People who feel depressed may also have physical symptoms,
such as body aches or stomach problems.
Because "mood swings" and
other emotional changes are considered a normal part of growing up, depression
in children and teens often goes unrecognized. Children and teens do develop
depression, and it can affect a child's quality of life. If prolonged or severe
depression is left untreated, it can lead to serious outcomes, including
suicide attempts and even completed suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone about your feelings, such as your health professional or a close friend or family member you trust. Don't wait. If you are not able to talk with your health professional immediately, call your local suicide hotline or this suicide hotline (Canada and U.S.): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.
Depression is the most important risk factor for suicide. For more
information, see the topic
Check your symptoms
to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of depression may
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can affect
your mood and cause symptoms of depression. A few examples are:
Symptoms of depression can also be caused by the use of or
withdrawal from alcohol and illegal drugs.
The risk of a suicide attempt is
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone about your feelings, such as your health professional or a close friend or family member you trust. Don't wait. If you are not able to talk with your health professional immediately, call your local suicide hotline or this suicide hotline (Canada and U.S.): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.
Positive actions and feelings can
help lift your spirits. Although thinking positively may be very difficult when
you are feeling depressed, try to consider the positive side of situations and
events in your life.
Appreciate any moments when you have positive
thoughts. The following tips may help.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
If you think a friend or loved one is depressed, you may feel helpless.
But there are still things you can do to help the person, such as talking with him or her about getting treatment. You can offer support and be a caring friend.
Life is full of changes. Everyday events
and our reactions to them sometimes interfere with our sense of well-being and
peace of mind. While it is common to get the "blues" or to feel sad
occasionally, you may be able to prevent feelings of depression.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
Before seeing your
health professional, it may be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms. You
can help your health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being
prepared to answer the following questions:
Mental Health America (formerly known as the National
Mental Health Association) is a nonprofit agency devoted to helping people of
all ages live mentally healthier lives. Its website has information about
mental health conditions. It also addresses issues such as grief, stress,
bullying, and more. It includes a confidential depression screening test for
anyone who would like to take it. The short test may help you decide whether
your symptoms are related to depression.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour,
toll-free suicide prevention service. Crisis centers are located in 130
locations across the United States. Each caller is routed to the closest provider
of mental health and suicide prevention services.
November 27, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& David Messenger, MD
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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