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Types of Depression

It's normal to feel down once in a while, but if you're sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may have depression. It's a condition you can treat with medicine, talking to a therapist, or changes to your lifestyle.

There are many different types of depression. Events in your life cause some, and chemical changes in your brain cause others.

Whatever the cause, your first step is to let your doctor know how you're feeling. She may refer you to a mental health specialist to help figure out the type of depression you have. This diagnosis is important in deciding the right treatment for you.

Major Depression

You may hear your doctor call this "major depressive disorder." You might have this type if you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.

Some other symptoms you might have are:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day
  • Feelings of being "sped up" or "slowed down"
  • Being tired and without energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

Your doctor might diagnose you with major depression if you have five or more of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer. At least one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities.

Talk therapy can help. You'll meet with a mental health specialist who will help you find ways to manage your depression. Medications called antidepressants can also be useful.

When therapy and medication aren't working, two other options your doctor may suggest are:

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

ECT uses electrical pulses and rTMS uses a special kind of magnet to increase certain areas of brain activity. This helps the parts of your brain that control your mood work better.

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