Depression is a common, serious condition that men, women, and people of all ages experience. Imagine walking around the grocery store. Many of the people you walk by have experienced depression. In fact, in the United States about 1 in 6 people experience depression during their lifetime.
So what exactly is depression? There are many symptoms of depression, and these symptoms might look different in each person. Here are some of the common signs:
- Having a depressed mood most of the day
- Having little interested or enjoyment in usual activities
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Losing weight without dieting, gaining weight, or appetite changes
- Moving or speaking slower or faster than usual, so much that others notice
- Having low energy and fatigue
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having thoughts of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Having recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or a suicide attempt
When these symptoms are present, it’s important to talk to your doctor about depression. Your healthcare provider will talk with you to understand your symptoms and the impact they are having on your life, work, and daily activities.
Your healthcare provider will also see if any other mental health or medical conditions may be present. It is common for patients with depression to have another mental health condition, such as anxiety. Likewise, some medical problems or medications may cause symptoms similar to depression. Your doctor will review other symptoms you have, history of medical problems, family history, and what medications you take.
After talking with you, your doctor may recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Many people benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor. You will work with the therapist to learn skills for coping with life, changing behaviors, and finding solutions. Patients also find that taking a medication for depression helps stabilize their mood and improve daily functioning. Talk with your doctor to see if medication is right for you. There are many different medications available for depression, and your doctor can work with you to choose one. Sometimes it takes a few trials to find the right medication and dose for you. Furthermore, it takes time for the medications to work. If you are started on a medication, take the medication as prescribed and work closely with your doctor to discuss both improvements and possible side effects. Don’t stop taking a medication without first talking with your doctor.
Finally, some patients with depression have thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately. Below are contact numbers for immediate assistance:
- 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) – 24-hour prevention line that can be called from anywhere in the US
- 1-800-659-6994 – Tri County Behavioral Health Crisis Line. Emergency treatment Center is located at 706 FM 2854, Conroe, TX
Dr. Ellerbrock is a resident physician who sees patients of all ages and provides obstetrical services at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.