Depression is a mood disorder. It is marked by a lasting low mood, sadness, and lack of interest in activities. Bouts of depression can last for weeks, months, or years. Treatment often helps people recover.
The exact cause of depression is not known. It is likely due to environment, personal traits, and stress.
Depression can differ from person to person. Some have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms can change over time and may include:
Lasting sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
Loss of interest in hobbies, activities, or sex
Feeling helpless, hopeless, or guilty
Sleeping too much or too little
Feeling tired, restless, or irritable
Trouble with focus, memory, or decisions
Changes in eating or weight
Thoughts of death or
Sometimes there are physical symptoms. Examples are aches and pains that cannot be explained.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. The doctor may give mental health exams. Tests may be done to rule out other causes.
The goal is to ease symptoms and decrease effect on day to day life. Treatment depends on the type of depression and how severe it is. Severe depression may need hospital care. Care is urgent if someone might hurt themselves or others.
Treatment may includes a combination of the following:
Medicines, such as:
Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics—if needed
Sedatives for anxiety—usually short term
Ketamine as a nasal spray or IV—may be used if other options do not work
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Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 03/15/2021
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