Have you ever felt down for a few days, or more? Chances are your answer is yes. All of us go through ups and downs in our lives - it's part of the human experience and it's perfectly normal.
Most of the time, we are able to bounce back without really doing anything. But sometimes, feeling "down" can transform into depression, which is far more serious. It's useful to know about depression so you can recognize it in yourself or your loved ones.
Keeping an eye out for the signs and symptoms of depression will allow you to seek help faster and to avoid the serious consequences of severe depression.
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What is Depression?
Depression is a mental state in which one feels either a depressed mood or loss of interest and pleasure in life. It can be triggered by a life event or it can be random.
To meet the strict definition of depression, one must feel this way for at least 2 weeks straight. Depression usually comes with some or all of these other symptoms:
Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or not being able to fall asleep)
Changes in appetite or weight
Feeling worthless or guilty
Feeling like you are physically moving slower or faster than normal
Thinking about death or suicide
How Do You Know When You're Depressed?
One of the trickiest things about depression is that it can be difficult to identify, even for the person experiencing it.
Sometimes depression can manifest as other types of complaints (like abdominal pain), and it's only after investigating further that one realizes that the abdominal pain is psychosomatic--caused by psychic distress rather than a physical problem. This is something that a doctor is able to help you identify.
While it may be tempting to just ride symptoms of depression out, it's better for your long-term health to get professional treatment early. Living with depression decreases your quality of life and is even associated with higher risk of other health conditions.
The good news is that depression is usually easily treated, and treatment is more successful if it's started early. There are many different types of treatment options, including the following:
Talk therapy is psychotherapy with a trained professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health therapist.
For someone initially diagnosed with depression, psychotherapy has been shown to be equally effective compared to medications (and it comes without side effects). Some people are worried about the cost of psychotherapy, but there are usually some options available for people who have insurance (or who might qualify for financial assistance).
This is something you could discuss with a doctor or social worker. Today, there are online therapists you can speak with in order to get a wider variety of providers and more affordable, convenient treatment.
According to the CDC, “ Expanded use of telehealth, an effective means of delivering treatment for mental health conditions, including depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation, might reduce COVID-19-related mental health consequences.”
There are many different types of antidepressants that have been used and proven safe for decades. One doesn't have to be on these medications for a long time; the duration of treatment can be quite short, depending on how you respond. You can even get antidepressants online if prescribed by an online doctor.
There are many other treatments along with talk therapy and/or medications that can help, such as exercise, meditation, and doing other things you enjoy to enhance your wellness.
How to Start Online Therapy
Online services are available to help you or a loved one improve your mental health. PlushCare is proud to offer online therapy sessions.
If our therapists believe you may benefit from medication, they may recommend you book an appointment with one of our trusted doctors.
PlushCare offers convenient, reliable, and affordable virtual appointments you can access from the comfort of your home. Together, our therapists and doctors will work together to ensure you get the help you deserve.
Book an appointment with one of PlushCare's doctors. If our doctors believe you would be best treated with medication, they can write you a prescription to be picked up at your local pharmacy.
The bottom line: Depression is very common and very treatable. There are lots of proven treatments available, and these treatments are more effective the earlier you start.
Read More About Depression Symptoms and Treatment
National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Accessed September 20, 2019 at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
Mayo Clinic. Depression (Major Depressive Disorder). Accessed September 20, 2019 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
CDC. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. Accessed on December 16, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm