Nearly 18.8 million Americans over age 18 suffer from major depression. Unfortunately, most people never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, lasting for years and causing untold suffering, and possibly even result in suicide.
Symptoms of depression include:
Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
Loss of energy
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Difficulty making decisions
The exact doses of any drugs you took, and a record of missed doses
Bring in your journal to your first appointment. Show it to your doctor or therapist. If you keep a journal for a few weeks or months, you may start to see patterns to your mood changes that you never noticed before.
Don't forget about your physical symptoms. You might not think that they're relevant, but physical symptoms are often signs of depression. Make sure to tell your health care provider about pain, stomach problems, sleep problems, or any other physical symptoms. In some cases, you might need medicines specifically for these symptoms.
Get help from friends or family members. Ask them about changes they've noticed in your behavior. They may have seen symptoms that you missed. And if you're nervous about your first appointment, ask for a friend or family member to come along.
SOURCES: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Finding Peace of Mind: Treatment Strategies for Depression and Bipolar Disorder." National Mental Health Association: "Depression: What You Need to Know." Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorder," 2002. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "You've Just Been Diagnosed ... What Now?" Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Psychotherapy: How It Works and How It Can Help."