Depression is a fairly common mental health issue that is associated with feelings of sadness, loss of interest, indecisiveness, and reduced physical activity. It affects millions of adults in the USA alone each year, without any particular group being more vulnerable than others. Fortunately, there are proven ways to identify depression and treat the condition with little disruption to a person's life. These treatments usually include therapy, medication, removing negative influences and substance abuse from a person's life, or a combination of them all. Read on to learn more.

Generally speaking, long-term feelings of despair or disinterest that are not tied to any particular events may indicate that someone is suffering from depression and not just feeling down for awhile. If these persist over time, chronic depression may be the culprit. These depressive spells usually last months or years at a time and can lead to destructive and suicidal behaviors if left untreated. Common symptoms of depression include loss of energy and appetite, sleep disturbances or changes in sleep patterns, physical pains, lack of focus, and consistent feelings of despair and guilt. Factors such as substance abuse, traumatic events, family problems, and changes in brain function all can cause or contribute to depression.

A number of medications which affect the brain are commonly prescribed for depression. They often take several weeks to begin working appropriately, but many doctors are now hesitant to give long-term prescriptions for these drugs. Certain people may need to try a few different medications to find one that works and does not cause them any side effects.

Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil are the most commonly given category of SSRIs, which affect serotonin levels in the brain. Wellbutrin is a class of NDRIs, another type of drug given to treat depression which works on dopamine levels in the brain. These may be more effective or have less side effects for certain individuals. Seroquel, Abilify, Elavil are older categories of drugs called SGAs and TGAs that are rarely used for depression anymore and tend to only be given if other treatment options have not worked.

Not all treatment options for depression involve medication nor trying to make chemical changes to the brain. Many involve therapy alone or a combination of therapy and medications. Most depression treatment protocols are focus on psychotherapy, which is essentially talking with a counselor to fix behavior and thought patterns. Techniques such as interpersonal therapy may try to correct and remove negative influences from a person's life, which can often involve other individuals who are contributing to depression. Support groups are also a common way of allowing people who are depressed to share their struggles in a supportive environment, often led by someone who has overcome depression. Groups can help give examples of how to correct and treat depressive behaviors. Even alternatives such as increased exercise and physical activity, exposure to more light and natural sunlight, or changes in diet have some support for helping with mild depression.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there are numerous ways to get help. Please contact a qualified health professional to begin treatment.

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