What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
What Are The Different Types Of Depression
You might have heard a number of terms used to describe depression. In this section, we explain what some of these terms mean.
What is clinical depression?
Clinical depression is a common term, but it is not a formal diagnosis. People sometimes say clinical diagnosis to just mean they have been diagnosed by a doctor.
What is a depressive episode?
Your doctor might say that you are going through a ‘depressive episode’. This is the formal name that doctors give depression when they make a diagnosis. They may say that you are going through a ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ episode.
What is recurrent depressive disorder?
If you have had repeated episodes of depression, your doctor might say that you have recurrent depressive disorder. They may say that your current episode is ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’.
What is reactive depression?
If your doctor thinks that your episode of depression was caused by particular stressful events in your life, they may say that it is reactive. For example, divorce, job or money worries. This is sometimes separated from an adjustment disorder, where you may struggle with some symptoms of depression because of adapting to a major change in your life. Such as separation from people, retirement or migrating to a new area.
What is a severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms?
You can find more information about Psychosis by clicking here.
What is dysthymia?
What is cyclothymia?
What is postnatal depression?
What is manic depression?
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
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What To Do When You Feel Depressed
When feeling depressed, most people want to sit around the house and do nothing, but this can actually worsen depression. Knowing how to feel better when depressed involves learning about depression, knowing yourself and understanding what works for you.
The important thing to remember when trying to feel better is to make reasonable goals. Anything has the possibility of making you feel more depressed if you set an unrealistic goal. For example, exercising is positive, but setting the goal for yourself to run five miles a day might make you feel more depressed if that’s not something you’re able to accomplish. Small goals and small steps forward work best. You can always set bigger goals as you start to feel less depressed.
How To Tell If You Have Clinical Depression
Clinical depression affects people in different ways.
The symptoms of clinical depression can be complex and vary from person-to-person.
Generally, if you have clinical depression:
- you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy
- you experience these symptoms for at least 2 weeks
- the symptoms are serious enough to interfere with work, social life or family
There are many other symptoms of clinical depression and you’re unlikely to have them all.
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Alternative And Complementary Medicine
Complementary medicine may also have beneficial effects on well-being when used in conjunction with psychotherapy and medication. Acupuncture, meditation, light therapy, and herbal supplements are some alternative options that you might consider.
You should always talk to your doctor before you try any type of alternative treatment. In the case of some herbal supplements, for example, you and your doctor need to consider possible drug interactions if you are currently taking or plan on taking antidepressants.
What Is The Link Between Smoking And Mental Health Conditions
Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, than in the general population.6 About 3 out of every 10 cigarettes smoked by adults in the United States are smoked by persons with mental health conditions.6 Why smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is uncertain. More research is needed to determine this. No matter the cause smoking is not a treatment for depression or anxiety. Getting help for your depression and anxiety and quitting smoking is the best way to feel better.
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Offer To Help With Everyday Tasks
With depression, day-to-day tasks can feel overwhelming. Things like laundry, grocery shopping, or paying bills can begin to pile up, making it hard to know where to start.
Your friend may appreciate an offer of help, but they also might not be able to clearly say what they need help with.
So, instead of saying Let me know if theres anything I can do, consider saying, What do you most need help with today?
If you notice their refrigerator is empty, say Can I take you grocery shopping, or pick up what you need if you write me a list? or Lets go get some groceries and cook dinner together.
If your friend is behind on dishes, laundry, or other household chores, offer to come over, put some music on, and tackle a specific task together. Simply having company can make the work seem less daunting.
Ways We Make Ourselves Depressed
So, if I’m depressed, what can I do about it?
Well, start by considering your own behavior. There are habits many of us have that don’t help. Here are 3 of them to think about how much you may do:
1. Focusing on what you don’t have. This can be a tough at certain times of the year, like at Christmas or our birthday, when we typically get asked what we want.
This question may lead many of us to think about things that cant be wrapped in pretty paper and given as a gift. The honest answer of what we truly want can be a painful one to say out loud. For instance,
- A guy I am counseling right now wants more than anything to have his family back
- A women in counseling with me wants some honest answers about why her husband no longer loves her
- Another person wants to be in a relationship with someone who really loves them. Not someone who just says it now and then, but who shows it every day.
Unfortunately, none of these are things that be offered as a gift, but focusing on these painful desires to the exclusion of almost everything else can lead to depression.
It’s really easy to focus on what we want, but don’t have. It doesn’t matter if it’s a different job, happier relationship, where we are in life. When we make our focus what we don’t have, we fuel our discontent and bring ourselves down.
Instead, try putting your focus on being grateful for what you do have, not unhappy about what you don’t. This can be hard, but it’s also doable.
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What Foods Help Ease Depression
While no specific diet has been proven to relieve depression, a healthy diet can help you feel your best physically and mentally. Certain foods may be linked to brain health and support for memory, alertness, and mood. Examples include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids , antioxidants , and nutrients like choline . Always talk with your doctor before making any major diet changes.
What Is Treatment Resistant Depression And Is There Any Help For It
If youve tried at least two different antidepressants and your depression hasnt improved, you may be diagnosed with treatment resistant depression . TRD is a serious condition that has been highly associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Nearly 33 percent of people with TRD attempt suicide in their lifetime, more than double the rate of their treatment-responsive peers, according to a recent report in Psychiatry Advisor. It is not, however, a hopeless condition. A number of alternative treatment approaches are available, including:
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Depression And Suicide: Getting Help In A Crisis
Some people who are depressed may think about hurting themselves or committing suicide . If you or someone you know is having thoughts about hurting themselves or committing suicide please seek immediate help. The following resources can help:
- Call to reach a 24hour crisis center or dial 911. is the National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon, which provides free confidential help to people in crisis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationexternal icon runs this lifeline.
- Get help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader, or someone else in your faith community.
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Depression Affects Each Woman Differently
Not every woman who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some women experience only a few symptoms. Others have many. The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and the severity of the illness.
Where Can I Learn More About Depression in Women?
The following agencies have additional information on depression in women.
Recommended Reading: Major Depressive Disorder In Women
What To Do If You Are Depressed
The intention of this page is to speak to those who may not yet be in, or who’ve recently begun, depression treatment.
If you’re not getting treatment for depression
Let’s assume, right now, that you are reading this because you are pretty sure you have depression. I doubt that a page with this title would appeal to you, otherwise. Let’s also assume that you haven’t looked for depression treatment yet.
Having said that, I encourage you, as strongly as I can, to get help! Call your doctor, a crisis line , a clergyman, or anyone listed in the Yellow Pages as a psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist. Any of these people will be happy to help, either by beginning your treatment, or referring you to someone who will.
I know all of the reasons why you don’t think you can, or should, do this. Here are some of the thoughts you may be having about it and my responses to them:
- I don’t have depression, this is just “a phase” which will pass.
If your lousy mood has gone on for more than a few weeks, it’s not going to “pass” all by itself. Get help.
- All I have to do is “get my act together.” I can snap out of it.
Doesn’t work that way. First of all, “get your act together” is meaningless. The reason you feel as though things are out of control is the depression itself. Until you address the depression, you cannot just “snap out of it.” Get help.
- I don’t need a pill to make me feel better.
- But I don’t want to become addicted!
Anti-depressants are non-addicting. Get help.
What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
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What If My Symptoms Dont Improve
If youre not responding to treatment, you may live with treatment resistant depression. This is when your symptoms have not improved after at least 2 standard treatments. This can also be known as treatment-refractory depression.
There is currently no official criteria used to diagnose treatment resistant depression.
What treatment is available for treatment-resistant depression?There are treatment options for treatment resistant depression. Even if antidepressants have not worked already for you, your doctor may suggest a different antidepressant from a different class.
The new antidepressant you are offered will depend on the first antidepressant you were given.
Sometimes your doctor can prescribe a second type of medication to go with your antidepressant. This can sometimes help the antidepressant work better than it does by itself.
Where antidepressants have not worked, your doctor may suggest talking therapies, ECT or brain stimulation treatments. See the previous section for more information on these.
What is an implanted vagus nerve stimulator, and how is it used in treatment resistant depression?If you live with treatment resistant depression, and youve not responded to other treatments, you may be able ask for an implanted vagus nerve stimulator.
Please speak to your doctor if youre interested in this treatment and for more information. You may be able to get this treatment funded through an Individual Funding Request.
- NHS – Your Rights by clicking here.
Take The Depression Test
Depression strikes millions each year, often with debilitating consequences. This psychological disorder is so common that it is sometimes referred to as the “common cold” of mental health, with nearly 10% of the population suffering from a depressive disorder at any given time.
Depression has a high cure rate. Effective treatments exist to help bring people’s lives back under control. Yet tragically many people suffering from this illness go without diagnosis and treatment. This depression test is a tool that may help you recognize the symptoms of depression and decide to get help. Please note that only a licensed professional can diagnose depression.
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Recognizing Depression Symptoms In A Loved One
Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. Thats why its important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before they do, and your influence and concern can motivate them to seek help.
Be concerned if your loved one:
Doesnt seem to care about anything anymore. Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody talks about feeling helpless or hopeless.
Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain. Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps. Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and out of it.
Eats more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.
Drinks more or abuses drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers, as a way to self-medicate how theyre feeling.
How Can You Get Yourself Out Of A Funk
Although depression can become a very clinical subject, many of the ways to help yourself through this mood disorder are very simple and practical. Self-care is a key component to living a happy, healthy life and between your diet, exercise, daily routines, and social interactions there are plenty of steps you can take to influence your mood. As you move through your depression, be open to trying new approaches and understand that it might take a combination of these self-care practices before you notice a change in your mood.
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Remind Them It’s Ok To Feel The Way They Feel
Even if your friend’s problems may seem minor to you, resist the urge to judge or come up with simple solutions. The biochemical imbalances associated with depression are what is driving how bad your friend feels about certain situationsnot necessarily the situations themselves.
Instead, let them know that you are sorry that they are feeling so badly and adopt an attitude of acceptance that this is how their depression is affecting them. If your friend only recently started taking medications or attending counseling, it can take time for them to begin to feel better.
Just as an antibiotic for strep throat takes a while to work, antidepressants can take some time to change chemicals in the brain .
During this time, what your friend needs most is not references to fast, easy solutions, but an awareness that you will be by their side through their treatment.