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Symptoms of Depression ┆Symptoms

Do you have symptoms of clinical depression? Sure, most of us feel sad, lonely, or depressed at times.
 And feeling depressed is a normal reaction to loss, life's struggles, or an injured self-esteem. 

But when these feelings become overwhelming and last for long periods of time, they can keep you from leading a normal, active life. That's when it's time to seek medical help.

If left untreated, symptoms of clinical or major depression may worsen and last for years. They can cause untold suffering and possibly lead to suicide. Recognizing the symptoms of depression is often the biggest hurdle to the diagnosis and treatment of clinical or major depression. Unfortunately, approximately half the people who experience symptoms never do get diagnosed or treated for their illness.

Not getting treatment can be life threatening. More than one out of every 10 people battling depression commit suicide.

What are symptoms of depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Are there warning signs of suicide with depression?

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. 

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:
  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • talking about suicide (killing one's self)
  • visiting or calling people one cares about
Remember, if you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the above warning signs of suicide with depression, either call your local suicide hot line, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

What are the symptoms of depression in teens?

It is common for teens to occasionally feel unhappy. However, when the unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks and the teen experiences other symptoms of depression, then he or she may be suffering from adolescent depression.
It is estimated that depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents. If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression, you should seek help from a qualified health care professional.

How is depression diagnosed?

The diagnosis of depression begins with a physical exam by a doctor. Because certain viruses, medicines, and illnesses can also cause symptoms of depression, your doctor will want to know when your symptoms started, how long they have lasted, and how severe they are. He or she will ask whether you have had similar symptoms of depression before and about past treatments you may have received.
Your family history of depression and other mental illnesses is very important, as is any history of drug or alcohol use. Although there is no "depression test" that a mental health expert can use to diagnose symptoms of depression, there are certain features, which he or she will look for in order to make the proper diagnosis of depression.

How are symptoms of depression treated?

If a physical cause for the symptoms of depression is ruled out, your doctor may refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychopharmacologist for a psychological evaluation and treatment. This mental health specialist will determine the best course of treatment. That treatment may include antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) used to treat symptoms of depression?

Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is a viable treatment option for patients with symptoms of depression who are unable to take antidepressants or who suffer from extreme depression.

When should I seek help for symptoms of depression?

If symptoms of depression are negatively affecting your life -- such as causing difficulties with relationships or work issues or causing family disputes -- and there isn't a clear solution to these problems, then you should seek help. Talking with a mental health counselor or health care professional can help prevent things from getting worse, especially if these symptoms of depression persist for any length of time.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or feelings, you must seek help immediately.
In addition, it's important to understand that feeling depressed does not mean you have a depressive illness. If you have low spirits for a while, don't be concerned. However, if you feel you can't lift yourself out of your symptoms of depression, seek medical help.

WebMD Medical Reference

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