Just the Blues or Depression? How to Know If You Need Professional Help
Reviewed by Kevin Stephens, MD.
We all feel sad sometimes. It's a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. But when sadness lasts for more than two weeks and starts to interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign of depression.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people of all ages worldwide. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including changes in mood, behavior, and physical health. If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, it's important to seek professional help.
Sometimes people with depression might have thoughts of hurting themselves or others. If you feel this way, you should call 988, Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, immediately.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can also lead to changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels, concentration, and self-worth. Depression can be a serious illness, but it is treatable.
Causes of Depression
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including biological, psychological, and social factors. Some of the possible causes of depression include:
Genetics: Depression tends to run in families, suggesting that there is a genetic component to the disorder.
Brain chemistry: People with depression may have imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
Life events: Traumatic or stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, or a divorce, can increase the risk of depression.
Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, can cause depression.
Medications: Some medications, such as steroids and blood pressure medications, can cause depression as a side effect.
Diagnosis of Depression
There is no single test for depression. A diagnosis is made based on a person's symptoms, medical history, and physical exam. The doctor may also ask about the person's family history and social history.
Treatment for Depression
There is no cure for depression, but there are a number of effective treatments available. The most common treatments for depression include:
Medication: Medication can be helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression. The most common medications used to treat depression are antidepressants.
Talk therapy: Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people with depression learn how to change negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Support groups: Support groups can provide a safe space for people with depression to connect with others who understand what they are going through.
Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, can also help to improve symptoms of depression.
Collaborative Care: The collaborative care model is an approach to treating depression that involves a team of healthcare professionals working together to create a treatment plan that is right for the individual. The team may include a primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a case manager.
Next Steps and Support
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages. If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with depression, it's important to seek professional help. There are a number of effective treatments available that can help to improve symptoms and improve quality of life.
You don’t have to wait for a mental health crisis in your life to find a therapist or seek support. It’s great to have one you know who you can call and talk to when you need to, as it can be hard to go through the process of finding a therapist when you’re having a hard time. Early intervention also leads to better outcomes and can help avoid those crisis moments.
Juno now offers virtual therapy for all New Yorkers! I'm Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC, mental health therapist and care manager here at Juno and I'm accepting virtual patients in New York today. Book your appointment online to meet me and get the support you need here.