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Major Depressive Disorder Treatments

Major Depressive Disorder Treatments

Major Depressive Disorder Treatments

August 22 2022

Symptoms and Treatment Options for Depression

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, please reach out to the National Suicide Lifeline by dialing 988. 

There is increased discussion and openness about depression and other mental health disorders; we think it is a very important conversation for all of us to be having. There is hope for those suffering from mental disorders.

In this article, we will be specifically looking at major depressive disorder, more commonly known as depression. This mood disorder causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Not only does it affect the way you feel, but it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It can disrupt daily life and even make a person feel like life is not worth living.

Depression is more than just feeling blue and it certainly is not a weakness that you can simply “snap out of.” Depression requires long-term treatment. However, those with depression should not be discouraged by this. With medication, therapy, or both, most people with depression can begin to feel better.

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Symptoms of Depression

Depression is marked by episodes in which symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day. For most, these symptoms are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities. Some may feel generally unhappy or miserable without knowing why. These symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, tearfulness, or hopelessness
  • Outburst of anger, irritability, or frustration
  • Loss of interest in normal activities or hobbies
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy and tiredness, leading to small tasks taking extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, self-blame, or fixating on past failures
  • Cognitive issues including trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Symptoms of Depression in Teens and Children

Depression in teens and children are similar to those in adults, however, there can be some differences. In younger children, symptoms may also include clinginess, sadness, irritability, general aches and pains, refusal to go to school, or being underweight.

Besides sadness and irritability, teens may also experience feelings of worthlessness, anger, or negativity. You might also notice poor attendance at school or poor performance. They may feel misunderstood and be extremely sensitive. They could also use drugs or alcohol to numb or escape their pain. Other symptoms include eating disorders, sleeping too much, self-harm, avoidance of social interactions, and a loss of interest in normal activities.

Depression in Older Adults

While depression can be a normal part of aging, it should never be taken lightly. Depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults who may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

  • Memory difficulties
  • Personality changes
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Fatigue and sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in sex (not caused by medication or medical condition)
  • Wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize
  • Suicidal thoughts (especially in older men)
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Complications from Not Treating Depression

Depression is a serious disorder that can take a heavy toll on the person and their family. Depression will get worse if left untreated, resulting in emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems that affect every aspect of life. A few examples include:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Anxiety, panic disorder, or social phobia
  • Family and other relationship difficulties or conflicts
  • Social isolation
  • Self-mutilation or suicide attempts
  • Premature death from medical conditions

Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression

Diagnosing depression requires an examination by a doctor. It will include a physical exam, lab tests, and a psychiatric evaluation. If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, it is important to speak openly and honestly with your doctor immediately so you can get diagnosed and begin treatment.

When it comes to treatment, the most effective options are medications and psychotherapy. A doctor will prescribe medications to relieve symptoms, however, a patient will also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. If you have severe depression, a hospital stay or outpatient treatment program may be needed to see symptoms improve.

Your doctor may prescribe you a combination of medications. Often, there is some trial and error before you and your doctor find the right prescriptions for you. Also, some medications require several weeks or longer to take full effect; this process does require some patience.

It is important to know that medications for depression are maintenance medications. Do not stop taking your medications because you feel better. These medications require continued use in order to continue feeling relief from symptoms of depression. Also, you should never abruptly stop taking antidepressants. Speak with your doctor first before stopping a medication to avoid symptoms of withdrawal.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be very effective in treating depression. It gives you the opportunity to talk to a trained professional about your feelings and work through issues you may have. Talk therapy not only can be done face-to-face, but new options include telehealth video calls and even texting. Both of these options are not a replacement for seeing your doctor or therapist, but can be great additions for chatting with someone at any time, day or night.

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Final Thoughts

With continued treatment, there is hope and healing for those suffering from depression. While there will be some trial and error at the beginning of treatment, particularly with medications, with dedication, those with depression will see much benefit from treatment.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, please reach out to the National Suicide Lifeline by dialing 988. 

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