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Depression Health Center

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Depression - Topic Overview

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. They vary among people, and you may confuse them with just feeling "off" or with another health problem.

The two most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
  • Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities that you used to enjoy, and feeling this way nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.

A serious symptom of depression is thinking about death or suicide. If you or someone you care about talks about this or about feeling hopeless, get help right away.

If you think you may have depression, take a short quiz to check your symptoms:

Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed?

How is it treated?

Depression can be treated in various ways. Counseling, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medicines can all be used. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, also may help.

Work with your health care team to find the best treatment for you. It may take a few tries, and it can take several weeks for the medicine and therapy to start working. Try to be patient and keep following your treatment plan.

Depression can return (relapse). How likely you are to get depression again increases each time you have a bout of depression. Taking your medicines and continuing some types of therapy after you feel better can help keep that from happening. Some people need to take medicine for the rest of their lives. This doesn't stop them from living full and happy lives.

What can you do if a loved one has depression?

If someone you care for is depressed, the best thing you can do is help the person get or stay in treatment. Learn about the disease. Talk to the person, and gently encourage him or her to do things and see people. Don't get upset with the person. The behavior you see is the disease, not the person.

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