Depression occurs in all age groups from childhood to old age. It is estimated one in five people has suffered from depression sometime in his or her life. There are many causes of depression. For some people it seems to occur for no reason at all. For others, depression occurs because of a traumatic event or when the stresses and strain of life prove to be too much. Depression has a physical and genetic component, and can run in the family.
The main symptoms of depression are a noticeable change in mood, a sense of hopelessness about the future and negative feelings. Many people lose interest in their lives, think about suicide and have trouble concentrating. Physical symptoms are also common. These include changes in appetite and weight, sleeplessness, loss of interest in sex, loss of energy, and tiredness.
There are a number of different techniques available to treat depression. Talk to your doctor about what approach is best for you. The two main types of treatment for depression are talking treatments known as psychotherapy and medication.
A highly effective form of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Rather than focusing on what has happened in the past, CBT is short-term, goal oriented and time-limited therapy that focuses on how you think, feel and behave through a practical hands-on approach to problem-solving. In addition, because of the physical component of depression, antidepressant medications may be used to treat depression. Antidepressants are not addictive, nor are they happy pills. They do not work instantly – it may take several weeks before a change in symptoms can be noticed. If you take medication for depression, it is important to continue taking it as prescribed, even though you may feel better, until you have discussed it with your physician.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Institute of Mental Health – Depression