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Depression Health Center

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Mental Health: Depression

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of depression often begins with a physical exam by a health care provider. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose depression, the health care provider may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, your health care provider may begin treatment with a medicine for depression, or may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for evaluation.

Diagnosis is based on the intensity and duration of symptoms -- including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms.

How Is Depression Treated?

The most common treatment for depression includes the combination of antidepressant medicine, including selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants, and psychotherapy (talk therapy). Sometimes a combination of medicines are used to treat depression.

Sometimes, atypical antipsychotic medicines or other drugs (such as lithium or other mood stabilizers) may be used in combination with antidepressants, when antidepressants alone are not fully effective at treating depression.

Electroconvulsive therapy, also called ECT, may be used when highly severe depression is disabling and unresponsive to other forms of therapy.

What Is the Outlook for People With Depression?

The outlook for depressed people who seek treatment is very promising. By working with a qualified and experienced mental health care professional, you can regain control of your life.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 11, 2014
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