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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Feeling Depressed
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Life is full of changes. Everyday events and our reactions to them sometimes interfere with our sense of well-being and peace of mind. It is common to get the blues or become sad when disappointed. Symptoms of depression are the most common medical problems seen by health professionals. It is estimated that feelings of depression will affect about one-third of all adults in the United States at some time in their lives.
Most people experience feelings of sadness over such losses as divorce or separation, the death of a friend or loved one, or a job change or layoff. These feelings are an expected reaction to a "triggering event," and most people get over them in time.
Several factors increase your risk of developing feelings of depression, such as:
Symptoms of depression that may point to a need for treatment vary from person to person. If you experience feelings of sadness or loss of interest in pleasurable activities plus 4 or more of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or longer, you may be depressed.
People who feel depressed may also have physical symptoms, such as body aches or stomach problems.
Because "mood swings" and other emotional changes are considered a normal part of growing up, depression in children and teens often goes unrecognized. Children and teens do develop depression, and it can affect a child's quality of life. If prolonged or severe depression is left untreated, it can lead to serious outcomes, including suicide attempts and even completed suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone about your feelings, such as your health professional or a close friend or family member you trust. Don't wait. If you are not able to talk with your health professional immediately, call your local suicide hotline or this suicide hotline (Canada and U.S.): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.
Depression is the most important risk factor for suicide. For more information, see the topic Depression.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of depression may include:
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can affect your mood and cause symptoms of depression. A few examples are:
Symptoms of depression can also be caused by the use of or withdrawal from alcohol and illegal drugs.
The risk of a suicide attempt is highest if:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
The National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 is also a resource.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone about your feelings, such as your health professional or a close friend or family member you trust. Don't wait. If you are not able to talk with your health professional immediately, call your local suicide hotline or this suicide hotline (Canada and U.S.): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.
Positive actions and feelings can help lift your spirits. Although thinking positively may be very difficult when you are feeling depressed, try to consider the positive side of situations and events in your life.
Appreciate any moments when you have positive thoughts. The following tips may help.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
If you think a friend or loved one is depressed, you may feel helpless. But there are still things you can do to help the person, such as talking with him or her about getting treatment. You can offer support and be a caring friend.
Life is full of changes. Everyday events and our reactions to them sometimes interfere with our sense of well-being and peace of mind. While it is common to get the "blues" or to feel sad occasionally, you may be able to prevent feelings of depression.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
Before seeing your health professional, it may be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms. You can help your health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
Current as of:
June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineDavid Messenger MD
Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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