Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Depression -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Although very common, depression is often ignored or misdiagnosed and left untreated. Such inattention can be life-threatening; major depression, in particular, has a high suicide rate.

If you or a loved one have symptoms of depression, seek help from a qualified health care provider. Many primary care doctors diagnose and treat depression. But if your symptoms get significantly worse or do not improve within four to eight weeks of treatment, ask your health care provider for a referral to a psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. Clearly, for more severe symptoms -- and always if you have thoughts about death or hurting yourself or someone else -- you should see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

Understanding Depression

Find out more about depression:



Diagnosis and Treatment


To diagnose depression, your health care provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and family history. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your symptoms. You may be given medical tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, such as nutrient deficiencies, underactive thyroid or hormone levels, or reactions to drugs (either prescription or recreational) and/or alcohol.

What Are the Treatments for Depression?

The stigma depression carries drives many people to hide it, try to tough it out, or misuse alcohol, drugs, or herbal remedies to get relief. To effectively treat depression, it is important to seek care from a licensed mental health professional and get a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Many treatments for depression are available and typically include a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy teaches patients how to overcome negative attitudes and feelings and helps them return to normal activities.

Drug therapy is intended to treat symptoms that are thought to result from abnormalities in brain circuits that regulate mood, thinking and behavior. It may take several weeks for an antidepressant to fully work to ease depression symptoms, so it's important to stay on the medication.

As with any chronic illness, getting an early medical diagnosis and medical treatment may help reduce the intensity and duration of depression symptoms. It may also reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path