Depression can be described as feeling sad or unhappy, and even miserable, down, or blue. However, many people feel this way for reasons other than depression. True clinical depression, however, is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration are ongoing (lasting for weeks or longer), often have no immediately identifiable cause, and interfere with everyday life.
The exact cause of depression is not yet completely understood. Many researchers agree that it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This may be due to a problem with genes, or it may even be triggered by certain stressful events. Some types of depression are thought to be genetic, however depression can also occur even if you have no family history of the illness. Anyone can develop depression, no matter how young or old. Other causes include drug and alcohol use, medical problems, sleep disorders and stress.
In most cases, treatment for depression includes medications, called antidepressants, which are often used in conjunction with some form of talk therapy. If a person has mild depression, they may only need one or the other, while people with more severe depression usually need combination of both treatments. Regardless, it takes time to become better, but day-to-day improvements are commonly seen. Some people with major depression may feel better after taking antidepressants for a few weeks. However, many people need to take the medicine for 4 - 9 months to fully feel better and prevent the depression from returning.
For people who have repeated episodes of depression, close monitoring and ongoing treatment may be needed to prevent more severe depression that can end up lasting longer. Often times, those with chronic depression will need to stay on medications for long periods of time in order to treat their depression. While medications can help people treat depression, psychotherapy can help with a better understanding of the issues behind the thoughts and feelings associated with depression. This can help to control the depression long-term.
Finding other people in a similar situation can also be helpful. Joining a support group of people who are sharing similar problems has shown to help with treating depression. There are many way to reach out to these types of support groups and it would be a good idea to ask your doctor or therapist for a recommendation.
Depression is a serious medical condition and if you suspect you or someone you know may suffer from it, it is a good idea to seek professional help right away.