Depression A Guide to Recognition and Treatment
What Is Depression?
Depression is an illness which involves a person’s mood, thinking, body functions, and actions. Changes in these areas can last for weeks or months. People become upset because depression can affect their ability to function.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
To help you be aware of depression, the signs and symptoms are discussed below.
- Feelings of being sad, blue, “down in the dumps,” worried or depressed.
- Loss of being able to feel pleasure.
- Decreased interest in activities with family, work, recreation and sex.
- Negative thoughts of the past, present, and future.
- Low self-esteem with feelings of being helpless and hopeless.
- Frequent thoughts of suicide.
- Decreased ability to focus, remember, and make decisions.
- Anxiety and/or exaggerated fears.
- In severe depression, delusions (false beliefs) and/or hallucinations (unreal sights, sounds or other feelings) may occur.
- Appetite changes. Weight loss may result from eating less, but depressed people may eat more and gain weight.
- Change in sleep patterns (too much sleep or too little sleep)
- Chronic fatigue and decreased energy
- Dry mouth, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea
- Increased reports of aches and pains
- Some people do not show any changes in their behavior.
- Others may show some of these:
- stooped posture
- slowed movements or restless movements, such as pacing or hand wringing
- not being able to work or perform daily acts such as dressing, eating, or washing
- Depressed people are at risk for suicide.
Treatment of Depression
Depression is caused by a mixture of many factors. Treatment depends on the type of depression, its causes, and how severe it is. Treatment may include talking to a trained expert, medicines, and/or ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). Depression responds well to treatment. It may take many weeks for symptoms to start to go away. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin and the depressed person can feel relief from the symptoms.
For more information about the treatment of depression contact:
Depression Treatment Program at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, (608) 263-6100
Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Dane Co.
NAMI Dane County
2059 Atwood Avenue
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7208.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/04/2011
Copyright © 04/14/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4525
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