Depression is a mood disorder. It's not caused by personal weakness and is not a character flaw. Depression may result from issues with activity levels in certain parts of the brain. Depression may also result if chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, are out of balance.
There are different types of depression. Major depressive disorder is generally one of the more serious kinds of depression, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It's normal to experience bouts of sadness, the "blues," or feeling down for a few days. But when those feelings persist and significantly interfere with life, a diagnosis of major depression may be appropriate.
Depression is an increasingly common disorder characterized by the following:
- Depressed mood
- Decreased interest or pleasure in activities
- Change in weight or appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Recurrent thoughts of death
Due to their nature, understanding and taking care of depressive symptoms can seem difficult; however, it's important to understand treatment is available and it's possible to feel better.
Research indicates that a combination of talk therapy and medication leads to the best outcomes for depression. So what steps can one take when starting to understand signs of depression? Here are some quick tips:
Talk to someone.
- A trusted friend or family member. This can be the most comfortable place to start for a lot of people.
- A medical provider. Your health care team cares about you and your whole health. Additionally, your medical provider and care team can help you make a treatment plan that is right for you.
- Behavioral health provider. Seeking behavioral health services is an important part of the equation. Behavioral health providers can be found in a primary care clinic, a community mental health clinic or private practice.
Discuss with your medical or behavioral health provider whether medication is right for you.
- Medication may be helpful in managing your mental health, but is not indicated for every mental health issue (and may be contraindicated with other medications you are taking).
If you are prescribed medication by your medical or behavioral health provider:
- Take medication as prescribed.
- Know that it can take several months for an antidepressant medication to be fully effective.
- It's important to continue to take the medication for at least six months even if you start to feel better.
- Follow up with your provider on a regular basis to discuss how the medication is working.
- Talk with you provider if you are experiencing side effects.
- Talk with your provider before discontinuing medication.
We're here to help.
Want to learn more? As a Providence Health Plan member you have access to resources. Start by accessing liveandworkwell.com and, under "Enter Anonymously" enter access code "ProvHP."