Health Guide


What is it?

Depression (d-preh-shun) is a type of mood disorder. A mood is an emotion or a feeling. Moods affect our behavior (how we act). Your mood also affects how you feel about yourself and life in general. Depression is a sad mood that you cannot control. If you feel sad for at least 2 weeks, you may be depressed.


Depression may be caused by a stressful change in your life. It may also be caused by a change in the chemicals in your brain. Sometimes illnesses can cause depression. Women are more likely to get depressed than men. You may be at higher risk for depression if you have one or more of these problems.

  • Someone else in your family has had a mood disorder, like depression.
  • Being under a lot of stress.
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Having a recent loss.
  • Someone close to you has died.
  • Breaking up with your significant other (husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend).
  • Losing your job.
  • Having something bad happen to you, such as an accident.

Signs and Symptoms:

Depression can start suddenly or slowly. Other people may see changes before you see or feel them. You may have one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Crying more easily.
  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Losing or gaining weight without trying.
  • Losing your appetite (desire to eat).
  • Losing interest in sex.
  • Not wanting to be with other people.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Trouble with your thinking or memory.
  • Feeling hopeless and sometimes even thinking about hurting yourself (suicide) or others (homicide).

Wellness Recommendations:

Eating healthy well-balanced meals, getting regular exercise, and talking to and being with friends and family help depression.

Medical Care:

You may need blood tests, x-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG), or a computed tomograph (CT) scan. You may also need medicine to help your depression. At first, you will probably be seen in a clinic or doctor's office. You may need to see your caregiver 1 to 4 times a month. You may need to go into the hospital for tests and treatment.

Dietary Measures:

  • Your depression medicine may not work if you drink beer, wine, or hard alcohol. It is best not to use alcohol if you are depressed.
  • You may become depressed if you stop using caffeine that is present in coffee, tea, and soda. If you are depressed and use any of these caffeine drinks, you may want to keep drinking them.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture has improved depression.
      • Sunlight or a special light helps winter depression (also called seasonal affective disorder).

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat depression.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You are not able to sleep well or are sleeping more than usual.
      • You cannot eat or are eating more than usual.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You are thinking about killing yourself (suicide) or someone else (homicide).

      Call or write the following organizations for more information:

      • National Institute of Mental Health 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 15C-05 Rockville, MD 20857
      • National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association 53 West Jackson Blvd., Room 618 Chicago, IL 60604 Phone: 312-939-2442

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment unless you might hurt yourself or someone else.


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      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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