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Midlands Family Medicine
Depression: Its Symptoms and Treatment
What is depression?
Depression is a condition in which you feel sad, hopeless, and uninterested in daily life. You may have other
We all have times when we feel sad and blue. However, when you feel this way for more than 2 weeks in a row, it
is called clinical depression. Clinical depression is a medical problem.
How does it occur?
Depression can begin at any age. It usually begins in the late teenage through young adult years unless it is caused
by medical or substance abuse problems. It may come on slowly over weeks or months, but it can also come on
The exact cause of depression is not known. It may result from chemical imbalances in the brain and nervous
system. You may have abnormal levels of the chemicals that your nervous system uses to send signals to and from
the brain. Depression tends to run in families. Things like job stress, poverty, major illness, negative thinking
patterns, or a history of abuse also play a part.
What are the symptoms?
Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe. Besides feeling sad and uninterested in things you usually enjoy, you
Have trouble falling asleep, wake up very early, or sleep too much.
Notice changes in your appetite and weight, either up or down.
Notice changes in your energy level, usually down but sometimes feeling overexcited.
Have trouble concentrating or remembering things.
Feel hopeless or just not care about anything.
Have unexplained pain or get headaches.
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider or a mental health therapist can tell you if your symptoms are caused by clinical
depression. He or she will ask about your symptoms and any drug or alcohol use. You may have some lab tests to
rule out medical problems such as hormone imbalances.
How is it treated?
Depression is a physical illness as well as a psychological one. Do not expect yourself to "snap out of it." It will take
time to treat depression. You should not try to overcome clinical depression by yourself. Depression can be
successfully treated with psychotherapy, antidepressant medicine, or both. Discuss this with your health care
Several types of medicines can help treat clinical depression. Your health care provider will carefully select one for
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline
(Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and escitalopram (Lexapro)
tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl HCl, Pamelor), and desipramine
monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs) such as tranylcypromine (Parnate), and phenelzine (Nardil)
other antidepressants such as mirtazapine (Remeron), venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and
mood stabilizers (primarily for bipolar and cyclothymic disorders) such as lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, Lithonate,
Lithotabs), carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbamazepine (Trileptal), and valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote),
You must usually take antidepressant medicines daily for 3 to 6 weeks for them to begin to work.
Certain medicines such as isotretinoin (Accutane), levofloxacin (Levaquin), mefloquine (Lariam), benzodiazepines,
and some beta blockers can add to the symptoms of depression. If you have been or are being treated for
depression, it is important to check with your health care provider before taking any new medicines, either
nonprescription drugs or drugs prescribed by other health care providers.
Seeing a mental health therapist can help with all forms of depression. Therapy may last a short time or may need
to go on for many months. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a way to help you identify and change thought
processes that can lead to depression. Replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones can help you with
Natural and Alternative Treatments
Claims have been made that many herbal and dietary products help depression. St. John's wort is the only one that
research shows can help mild symptoms of depression. At 300 to 400 mg per day, hypericum (St. John's wort) may
help mild depression. It will not help severe cases of depression or bipolar disorder.
Many types of alternative treatments are said to help depression. Some of them are:
You learn to control body functions such as muscle tension or brain wave patterns. Biofeedback
can help with tension, anxiety, and concentration.
Acupuncture may be helpful in treating some types of depression.
Massage therapy may help lower stress.
Learning ways to relax can help with depression. Yoga and meditation may also be
Art and Music Therapies.
Some people find art and music therapy, along with medicines and
psychotherapy, are helpful in treating depression.
How long will the effects last?
Different kinds of clinical depression last for different amounts of time. Experts do not fully understand why. Often
depression lasts a few weeks and never comes again. It can also last months or years. Some people experience
depression over and over all their lives.
What can I do to help myself or my loved one?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. To help prevent depression:
Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day, for example, take a brisk walk.
Learn which activities make you feel better and do them often.
Eat a healthy diet and drink less caffeine.
Learn ways to lower stress, such as breathing exercises or relaxation techniques.
When should I seek help?
Do not try to overcome depression all by yourself. Seek professional help if you believe that you or a loved one have
the symptoms of clinical depression.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one have serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
Adult Health Advisor 2006.4; Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights
Reserved. Written by Gayle Zieman, PhD, for McKesson Provider Technologies. This content is reviewed periodically
and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and
educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare
Tabb Tiger Band 2012-2013 Consolidated Medical Form Student Name _______________________________________________ Home Address ______________________________________________________________________________________ Home Phone # ______________________ Primary Doctor with Phone #: ______________________________________ d/Drug Allergies: NONE KNOWN OR YES, as noted here _______________
Statistics Concentration)M. S. (Applied Statistics)University of the Philippines at Diliman, 1985Department of BiostatisticsUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, Oct 2008 – presentCenter for Cardiovascular BiologyUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, November 2010 – presentCenter for AIDS ResearchUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, May 2008 – presentDepartment of BiostatisticsUniversity