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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.