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Is It Sadness or Depression? Know When You Need Extra Help

Overview

Highlights

  1. Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of depression.
  2. Treatment of depression usually involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
  3. Depression is highly treatable. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can go on to lead a happy and healthy life.

Everyone feels sad or blue occasionally, but some people
feel down more often than is healthy. While ordinary sadness passes with time,
depression is more serious and lasts longer. It can be hard to pinpoint the
cause of depression. It can be related to emotional trauma, such as the loss of
a loved one, divorce, or another significant life change. The good news is that
help is readily available for those who struggle with depression.

It’s possible to overcome depression with therapy or
medication recommended by your doctor. The support of family and friends can
also play an important role. To diagnose depression, you must learn to
recognize its symptoms and how it’s distinguished from normal feelings of
sadness.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Symptoms

There are many symptoms associated with depression. Symptoms include:

  • decreased enjoyment or no pleasure in daily activities
  • persistent feelings of melancholy, or being sad or
    tearful throughout the day
  • sleeping problems, including trouble sleeping,
    insomnia, or an increased desire to sleep (hypersomnia)
  • fatigue or decreased energy
  • observable restlessness or slowed behavior
  • weight or appetite changes, such as weight loss without
    dieting or weight gain
  • excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • indecisiveness or difficulty concentrating
  • recurring thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or
    attempting suicide

How is depression diagnosed?

Diagnosis

To diagnose depression, your healthcare provider will consider your symptoms
in relation to the symptoms of depression listed in a medical guide called the “Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,”
or DSM-5.
It’s published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-5
is the authoritative guide to diagnosing mental disorders in the United States.
It contains disorder descriptions and symptom information. The DSM-5 states
that at least five or more of the above symptoms must be present during the
same two-week period to confirm a diagnosis of depression.

Along with that information, there are a number of medical tests your doctor
can use to help confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions, including:

  • Questionnaire: Your doctor or primary
    care physician may ask you how you’ve been feeling about your moods
    lately, and they may ask you to take a short questionnaire to help
    identify any symptoms.
  • Physical exam: This is used to gather
    information about your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
  • Lab tests: A complete blood count
    test and thyroid test can help rule out other conditions, such as thyroid
    problems, which can cause symptoms similar to depression.
  • Psychological tests: Your doctor may refer
    you to a psychologist or other mental health provider who can administer a
    more detailed psychological evaluation to assess your feelings, thoughts,
    and patterns of behavior that may indicate depression.

There
are many different types of depression, and these tests can help diagnose a
specific form of depression. Depression can manifest in many ways, including:

  • anxiety
  • melancholy
  • mania
  • atypical
    features
  • psychosis
  • catatonia

Depression often goes undiagnosed. See a doctor if you’re
experiencing symptoms. It’s
important to get a diagnosis from a doctor or healthcare professional and to
not self-diagnose.

Take a step toward health
and happiness

There are many options available for treating depression, including therapy,
medication, or a combination of both. Talk therapy can be very effective in
helping with depression. Having a professional who is nonjudgmental listen to
your issues can help you get things off your chest and help you explore and
realize some of your feelings. Talk therapy can help you:

  • find new ways of dealing with negative thoughts
    and behaviors
  • improve your relationships with other people
  • explore and look into yourself and your past to
    find the root cause of issues

If your depression is severe, your doctor may prescribe medication and refer
you to a clinical psychologist or other licensed therapist.

Additionally, there are many natural remedies that are reported to help
relieve symptoms of depression, including:

  • St. John’s wort
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • zinc

Be sure you talk to your doctor about adding any herbs or supplements to
your treatment plan.

Treatment

If you have suicidal thoughts, there are support groups and hotlines that
can help. The National Alliance on
Mental Illness has many resources for support groups across the country.
Also, the National Suicide
Lifeline, at: 1-800-273-8255 OR 1-800-273-TALK, can provide support and
help. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in
your area, available 24 hours a day.

Outlook

Outlook

When you learn the difference between depression and everyday blues, you’ll
be better equipped to decide whether you need help from a professional. There’s
no need to suffer in silence. There are many effective forms of treatment for
depression. Psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both can help you
start to feel better within a few weeks.

If you think you may be experiencing depression, don’t delay. Talk to your
doctor, psychologist, or other mental health counselor. Your healthcare
provider can help you determine whether you have depression and possible
treatment options.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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