Don’t live with depression – treatment can help

October 6, 2015 Providence Health Team

We all feel sad sometimes. But when despairing feelings persist for weeks or months, and activities that you once enjoyed leave you flat, you could be depressed. Most people with depression never seek help, but it’s a serious illness and it can be treated.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. It’s most likely caused by a combination of factors:

Genes: People with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it.

Brain chemistry: The brains of people with depression are different, particularly the parts that affect mood, behavior, sleep and appetite.

Stress and trauma: Loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship or any other major life event may trigger depression.

Depression can distort the way you see yourself and the world. It colors many things in a negative way, and it can make problems seem insurmountable. Symptoms of depression vary but common ones include:

  • Becoming withdrawn
  • A lack of energy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Sadness, anxiety and hopelessness

If you or someone you know might be depressed, there is hope through treatment. The first step is to see your doctor, who can rule out any other medical conditions and refer you to a mental health specialist. Treatment can include medication, talk therapy or a combination of both.


Antidepressants are used to treat depression. These drugs work to stabilize chemicals in the brain, especially serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Your doctor will work with you to determine the best medication for your symptoms.

Talk therapy

Three types of talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, have been effective in treating depression:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy helps people change negative thought patterns so they see themselves and their world in a more positive, realistic way.
  2. Interpersonal therapy: This therapy helps people understand and work through troubled relationships or life events that may have caused their depression.
  3. Group therapy: You and others with similar depression meet and share your problems. Group therapy can provide insight and support for participants.

How to help yourself

Once you have a treatment plan, it will take time for it to work. Here are some tips to help you cope as you improve:

  • Postpone important decisions such as marriage or changing jobs until you feel better and have a more objective view of your life.
  • Exercise regularly to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Try to be active. Resume activities you once enjoyed and get out and socialize.
  • Talk about your illness with a trusted friend.
  • Break large tasks into small ones and set realistic goals for yourself.

As you improve, your normal sleep patterns and appetite will return. And as your depression lifts, positive thoughts will replace negative ones. If you do not feel you are responding to treatment, make sure to follow up with your treatment specialist.

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