Depression: Symptoms and Treatment

Written by Jennifer Martin, PhD

What is Depression?

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), often referred to as depression, is a diagnosable mental health condition that affects your mind, body and ability to handle daily life. A diagnosis is made if five or more symptoms are present in a two week period and negatively interfere with your life. At least one symptom must be either depressed mood or loss of interest.

  • Depressed Mood: You feel sad, low, or empty most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Loss of Interest: You don’t enjoy activities that you used to, such as hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or even favorite foods.
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns: You experience trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or oversleeping.
  • Low Energy or Fatigue: Feeling tired or sluggish most of the day, even if you are getting enough sleep.
  • Changes in Appetite or Weight: You have a notable increase or decrease in appetite, and/or experience significant changes in weight.
  • Difficulty Concentrating or Slowed Thinking: You find it hard to focus, remember things, or make decisions.
  • Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt: You may feel useless, harshly criticize yourself or have excessive guilt.
  • Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation: Rapid or slowed down physical movements with no purpose, such as pacing or slowed speech.
  • Thoughts of Death or Suicide: You experience recurrent thoughts or images of dying, or consider plans to physically harm yourself. If you or someone you know is having these thoughts, it’s important to seek professional help right away.

How to Treat Depression

For many, symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder can last for months or years, and do not resolve on their own without professional, medical treatment. However, depression symptoms are treatable, and with the right support, you can feel better. Common Treatments include:

  • Counseling: Significant research shows that working with a mental health therapist is proven to decrease depression symptoms. Your counselor can help you improve thinking pattern and healthy behaviors, and develop effective coping skills to reduce or manage symptoms.
  • Medication: Taking prescribed medication can help manage the symptoms of depression. It’s important to take medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity, like walking, swimming, or playing sports, can improve your mood and help reduce symptoms of depression. This is an excellent compliment to counseling and/or medication.
  • Healthy Eating: Eating nourishing foods and having a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and vitamins can help improve your mood and energy levels. This is an excellent compliment to counseling and/or medication.
  • Therapy Group: Joining a support group allows you to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. It is comforting to know that you are not alone and have professional therapeutic support.
  • Brain Stimulation Therapy: In situations of severe, or treatment resistant, depression, treatments such as Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can improve depression symptoms.

If you are feeling suicidal: This is a temporary feeling and people are available to support you. Call 988 or text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support.

At Sage Wellness, we provide mental health therapy in Gainesville, Florida (in-person sessions) and video sessions for those in Florida. Therapy can help you experience relief from depressive symptoms.

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