Feeling a sad or down are a normal part of life. It can be caused by sad event, seasonal changes, or stress. Depression is when these feelings affect how you feel or think about things and how well you eat and sleep. It can cause physical problems and interfere with day to day life. It can cause problems in relationships, work, school, and hobbies. Depression can also have more intense feelings, such as hopelessness and worthlessness. It stays around longer than you would expect and tends to keep happening.
It is important to know the difference. Depression may need professional help to help break the cycle.
You may have been asked questions about mood and sleep at the doctor's office. This is in part to help screen for depression. There are no physical tools to measure depression. Instead the doctor will look for symptoms such as:
Symptoms and intensity are different from person to person. Your doctor will talk to you to help diagnose depression.
Talk to your doctor if you have had these symptoms. They may want to talk to you further. A physical exam may also be done to rule out other health problems.If you have thoughts of death or suicide, seek help immediately
Beating the blues can often be done without treatment. Consider writing down things that are causing low moods. Note what tends to make you happy. This may reveal a pattern that can help next time you feel down. Other steps that may help are:
Depression is treatable. The treatment plan will be based on individual needs. Common steps include:
Be patient and honest with your doctor. It may take some time to find the right plan for you. The plan may also need to be adjusted throughout treatment.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Institutes of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Mental Health Canada
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Accessed January 29, 2020.
Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 29, 2020.
Depression. National Institutes of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed January 29, 2020.
The blues and depression: What you can do to overcome them. Kansas State University website. Available at: http://www.k-state.edu/counseling/topics/life/blues.html. Accessed January 29, 2020.
Last reviewed January 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 7/15/2020