Depression is more than the blues or the blahs. Everybody gets sad or feels down sometimes, but most people with the blues can lift their mood by exercising, socializing or other activities. However, those with major depression cannot, and their symptoms can last weeks, months or even years.
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Being “down in the dumps” over a period of time is not a normal part of getting older. But, it is a common problem, and medical help may be needed. For most people, depression will get better with treatment. “Talk therapy,” medicine, or other treatment methods can ease the pain of depression. You do not need to suffer.
It is also important to understand that in older people, there are many reasons why depression is often missed or untreated. As a person ages, the signs of depression are much more varied than at younger ages. It can appear as increased tiredness, or it can be seen as grumpiness or irritability. Confusion or attention problems caused by depression can sometimes look like Alzheimer’s disease or other brain disorders. Mood changes and signs of depression can be caused by medicines older people may take for arthritis, high blood pressure, or heart disease. The good news is that people who are depressed usually feel better with the right treatment.
Your doctor or mental health expert can often treat your depression successfully. Different therapies seem to work for different people. For instance, support groups can provide new coping skills or social support if you are dealing with a major life change. Several kinds of talk therapies are useful as well. One method might help you think in a more positive way. Always thinking about the sad things in your life or what you have lost might have led to your depression. Another method works to improve your relations with others to give you more hope about your future.
Getting better takes time, but with support from others and with treatment, you will get a little better each day.
Anti-depressant drugs (medicine to treat depression) can also help. These medications can improve your mood, sleep, appetite, and concentration. There are several types of antidepressants available. Some of these medicines can take up to 12 weeks before you feel like they are working. Your doctor may want you to continue medications for 6 months or more after your symptoms disappear.
Some antidepressants can cause unwanted side effects, although newer medicines have fewer side effects. Any antidepressant should be used with great care to avoid this problem. Remember:
- The doctor needs to know about all prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements you are taking.
- The doctor should also be aware of any other physical problems you have.
- Be sure to take antidepressants in the proper dose and on the right schedule.
If you are still very depressed after trying different treatments, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may be an option. ECT may be recommended if medicines or other therapies do not work for you. ECT is given as a series of treatments over a few weeks. Like other antidepressant therapies, follow-up treatment is often needed to help prevent a return of depression.
To get more details about different ways of treating depression, read Detection and Treatments For Depression.
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- Forms of Depression
- Treatments For Depression
- Getting Help For Depression
- Pet Therapy as Treatment For Depression
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