What is Depression?

Depression is an illness that involves the brain. It can affect your thoughts, mood, and daily activities. Depression is more than feeling sad for a few days.  Depression can be mild or severe. Mild depression can become more serious if it’s not treated.

If you are diagnosed with depression, you aren’t alone. Depression is a common illness that affects millions of adults in the United States every year.

The good news is that depression can be treated. Getting help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. You can feel better.

What are the signs of depression?

It’s normal to feel sad sometimes, but if you feel “sad” or “down” on most days for more than 2 weeks at a time, you may be depressed.  Depression affects people differently. Some signs of depression are:

  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Forgetting things or having trouble making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing weight without meaning to
  • Thinking about suicide or death

How is depression treated?

Depression can be treated with talk therapy, medicines (called antidepressants), or both. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for talk therapy or medicine.  Depression is a real illness. If you think you might be depressed, see your doctor.

Talk to a doctor about how you are feeling

Get a medical checkup. Ask to see a doctor or nurse who can screen you for depression.

The doctor or nurse may also check to see if you have another health condition (like thyroid disease) that can cause depression or make it worse. If you have one of these health conditions, it’s important to get treatment right away.

Get treatment for depression

When you have depression, seeking help is the best thing you can do. Depression can be treated with talk therapy, medicines, or both.  Here are some places you can go to for help with depression:

  • Doctor’s office or health clinic
  • Family service or social service agency
  • Psychologist
  • Counselor or social worker
  • Psychotherapist

Get support

If you have depression, it can also help to reach out for social support. You don’t have to face depression alone. A trusted family member, friend, or faith leader can help support you as you seek out medical treatment. Remember – even if asking for help seems scary, it’s an important step toward feeling better.

Get active

Getting active can lower your stress level and help your treatment work better. It can also help keep you from becoming depressed again. But it’s important to know that physical activity isn’t a treatment for depression.

Last updated: August 3, 2017

Last updated: August 3, 2017