Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious illness that negatively affect how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities one enjoys. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home.
Symptoms of depression can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue.
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is sometimes used alone for treatment of mild depression; for moderate to severe depression, psychotherapy is often used in along with antidepressant medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating depression. CBT is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem solving. CBT helps a person to recognize distorted thinking and then change behaviors and thinking.
Psychotherapy may involve only the individual, but it can include others. For example, family or couples therapy can help address issues within these close relationships. Group therapy involves people with similar illnesses.
Depending on the severity of the depression, treatment can take a few weeks or much longer. In many cases, significant improvement can be made in 15-20 sessions.