- What is depression?
- What are the different forms of depression?
- What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- What causes depression in women?
- How is depression treated?
- How can I help a loved one who is depressed?
- How can I help myself if I am depressed?
- Where can I go for help?
- What if I or someone I know is in crisis?
How is depression treated?
The first step to getting the right treatment is to visit a doctor or mental health professional. He or she can do an exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. He or she can also tell if certain medications you are taking may be affecting your mood.
The doctor should get a complete history of symptoms, including when they started, how long they have lasted, and how bad they are. He or she should also know whether they have occurred before, and if so, how they were treated. He or she should also ask if there is a history of depression in your family.
Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. They can take several weeks to work. Antidepressants can have side effects including:
- Nausea, feeling sick to your stomach.
- Difficulty sleeping and nervousness.
- Agitation or restlessness.
- Sexual problems.
Most side effects lessen over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have.
It's important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may present serious risks to some, especially children, teens, and young adults. A "black box"—the most serious type of warning that a prescription drug can have—has been added to the labels of antidepressant medications. These labels warn people that antidepressants may cause some people, especially those who become agitated when they first start taking the medication and before it begins to work, to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially when they first start taking them. For most people, though, the risks of untreated depression far outweigh those of antidepressant medications when they are used under a doctor's careful supervision.
If you are pregnant . . .
Before taking an antidepressant during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits to you and your baby. There may be a very small chance that taking the medication during certain times of your pregnancy may affect your growing baby. But not taking your medication also may be risky to you and your baby. Experts generally agree that each woman's individual situation should determine whether she can safely take an antidepressant while pregnant.
Several types of therapy can help treat depression. Therapy helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can also help women understand and work through difficult relationships that may be causing their depression or making it worse.