Depression: Symptoms, signs and treatments

November 29, 2021

Mental Health Wellness Primary Care
Woman with mental health problems is sitting desperate on the floor and crying

Everyone gets the blues from time to time. But if you have been feeling down for several weeks with no noticeable improvement, you could be suffering from clinical depression.

Depression is a common mood disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, roughly 16% of Americans will experience depression in their lifetime.

“Patients should speak to their medical care provider right away if they are struggling with depression,” says Stacey Johnson, LCSW, MBA, Vice President of Riverside Behavioral Health Center. “There should be no stigma about asking for mental health support. We don’t want to see patients struggling, especially since depression can be successfully treated, in most cases, with therapy and medication.”

Symptoms of depression

As outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a patient can be diagnosed with depression if they experience five or more of the following symptoms for a period of at least two weeks:  

  • Feelings of depression or sadness
  • Losing interest or enjoyment in daily activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Insomnia or, conversely, over-sleeping 
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sluggish or uncoordinated movement
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Inability to think clearly or concentrate
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide 

Signs of depression

In addition to the clinical symptoms above, many people with depression also experience behavioral and physical indicators linked to their mood disorder, including:

  • Angry or irritable outbursts
  • Quick loss of temper
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol 
  • Sudden unexplained body aches, such as backaches or headaches 

“Depression can feel debilitating and if left untreated, can be life threatening,” says Stacey. “Everyone should know that help is available.”

 Treatment

If you are struggling with depression, talk with your primary care physician or seek out mental health counseling with a qualified therapist. Most patients with depression respond well to a plan of treatment that combines both therapy and antidepressant medications.

Types of therapy

Your physician and therapist could suggest a range of therapy approaches to address your depression symptoms, including:

  • Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy”
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on adjusting negative thinking patterns

Types of medications

A wide range of prescription medications are available to treat depression. Your physician can help direct you to one that best suits your individual symptoms. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include:

  • SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro
  • SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), such as Cymbalta 
  • Atypical antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin or Trintellix 

“You don’t have to live with untreated depression,” says Stacey. “With treatment, you can get your depression under control and get back to living life fully.”

Are you struggling with depression? Request an appointment with a specialist at Riverside’s Behavioral Health Center today. Our professional counselors, therapists and physicians are here to help you get back to feeling like yourself again. 

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