Feeling down and wondering if you have depression? If so, you are not alone. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, 2.9% of U.S. adults experienced severe depression, 4.2% experienced moderate depression, and 11.5% experienced mild symptoms during the two-week survey. Depression can be a serious medical condition. Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts require urgent medical evaluation and treatment. Effective treatments are available to help you feel better fast.
Clinical depression, also known as major depression, is a mental health condition characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities that previously provided joy or satisfaction, and a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. The symptoms can also cause chronic fatigue.
Clinical depression is different from depression in response to a specific loss or event, from medication use or due to a medical condition.
In addition to major depression, depression can take other forms, such as
According to DSM-5TR guidelines, at least 5 of the following symptoms should be present nearly every day in a 2-week period to meet the criteria for major depressive disorder:
Depression is sometimes associated with physical symptoms such as hair loss and other mental symptoms such as brain fog.
The causes of depression are unknown. However, here are some potential risk factors for depression:
Depressive symptoms can be exacerbated by poor health, whether due to aging, cognitive health declines, or unhealthy changes in body composition.
Comorbid conditions are those that commonly occur together. Brain health and mental health conditions commonly intersect. For example, changes in cognition frequently co-occur with mood disorders, such as depression.
Common comorbidities with depression include:1
The steps most clinicians take to diagnose depression include the following:
Since the underlying cause of depression is unknown, it is hard to provide suggestions on how to prevent depression. Stress and overall poor health contribute to depressive symptoms and can make the condition worse.
Untreated depression increases your risk for suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts, and substance use disorder. Using substances to try to improve depression symptoms can cause the worsening of both and increase the risk of self-harm.
A wide range of medications are available to treat depression. Some of these medications will work better for some people than others. It may be necessary for your doctor to prescribe more than one to find the one that works best for you.
Psychotherapy is an important aspect of depression therapy. It may be used alone or in combination with medications. Some research and clinical trial results also suggest vitamin B12 supplements may help with depression.
If you have symptoms of depression, get a medical evaluation. Depression can be a serious medical condition. With that said, here are some steps you can take to combat depression and improve overall health:
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.