Depression is a common, debilitating condition that affects mood, thinking, behavior and relationships. It often begins in childhood and can run in families. Life circumstances, genetics and brain changes can all raise a person’s risk of developing depression.
If you or a loved one have depression, you need to find effective treatments as soon as possible. Treatments can include medications, psychotherapy and a combination of both.
Your doctor will examine you and do a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of your depression and the best way to treat it. This may involve a blood test to make sure that the depression isn’t caused by a medical condition like a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency (reversing those conditions would help relieve your symptoms).
The most common type of therapy for people with depression is called talk therapy. Your therapist will teach you new ways to think and feel differently, helping you to cope with depression and improve your overall health.
Other kinds of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. And interpersonal therapy can help you improve your relationships and reduce your feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Medications can help you to get over depression by changing the brain chemistry that causes it. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), are the most commonly prescribed drugs for depression.
If you’re taking antidepressants, it’s important to take them as directed to keep a steady supply in your system. Skipping a dose can lead to withdrawal-like symptoms and make your depression worse.
Exercise and diet can also help to combat a depression attack. Physical activity can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters that help you to think more clearly and process information better. You can also focus on what you have to be grateful for and practice mindfulness, which is a mental health technique that helps you be present in the moment rather than trapped by negative thoughts.
A combination of these approaches is likely to be the most successful. It’s also important to stick to your treatment plan so you don’t stop feeling better.
You can also work to prevent depression from starting in the first place by practicing self-care. Stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and a poor relationship are some of the things that can lead to depression.
Learning to manage stress, boosting your resilience and building good relationships are all important for keeping depression from coming back. In addition, it’s helpful to have a support system, so reach out to your friends and family when you’re having trouble dealing with depression.
The sooner you start treatment, the more quickly you can get back to your normal life. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating depression, but most people find that medication and psychological therapy can help them feel more relaxed and enjoy a more positive outlook on their lives.
In the long term, depression can damage your brain. It can lead to changes in neurotransmitters that help you to think clearly and process information, as well as inflammation that can cause changes to the brain’s grey matter. It can also affect concentration, decision-making and personality traits.