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Depression Symptoms: When to Seek Treatment

It can be hard to admit to yourself that you may be depressed, let alone ask for help. Here are two good reasons why you should consider depression treatment:

  • Treatment works. Even people with severe depression can find relief, and so can you.
  • Early treatment is better. As with many other health problems, getting treatment early on can ease symptoms more quickly. If you wait to get help, your depression can become more severe and harder to treat.

Talk to someone. There are many people willing to help you overcome depression, but the first step you have to take on your own is to let someone know how you are feeling. It may help to start by talking to a close friend or family member. Ask them for support in finding depression treatment. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will start to feel better. Don't hesitate -- call your doctor or a medical health professional if:

  • You think you may be depressed
  • You notice symptoms of depression such as sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness, or if you have less obvious symptoms such as trouble sleeping or vague aches and pains
  • Depression symptoms make it hard to function

If you have thoughts about dying or committing suicide, seek immediate medical help. You may feel hopeless now, but treatment will give you hope -- and help you see that life is worth living.

Depression Treatment: Give it Time to Work

Certain medications and medical conditions such as thyroid problems can cause symptoms of depression, so your doctor may want to rule them out. If your doctor thinks you may be depressed, he or she can refer you to a mental health professional.

Depression treatment involves either antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or both. People with mild to moderate depression can benefit from therapy alone. People with more severe depression usually do better with medication and therapy. Note that once you start treatment, you may notice improvements in symptoms such as sleep or appetite before you begin to feel less depressed.

Antidepressants work by affecting brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Antidepressants effectively treat depression in most people who take them. However, they can take four to six weeks to notice an effect, so it's important to be patient. Antidepressants can also have side effects, including weight gain and sexual problems. It may take some time to find the right medication that works best for you with the fewest side effects.

Psychotherapy treats depression by helping you:

  • Learn new, more positive ways of thinking
  • Change habits or behaviors that may make your depression worse
  • Work through relationship problems at home or work
  • Help you see things in a more realistic way and face your fears
  • Help you feel hopeful, positive, and more in control of your life

It can take time to break old patterns of thinking and behavior, so give therapy some time to work.