Detecting and Treating Depression

How can you tell if you're in a bad mood or if you are depressed? How can you tell if a loved one is struggling with depression? Dr. Oz reveals the warning signs for depression and provides resources for those seeking to understand and treat this common disorder.

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What Causes Depression?

There is no single cause of depression and in most cases this disorder stems from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. A person does not have to experience a traumatic or sad event in order to become depressed. What we do know is that the brains of people who are depressed tend to look different from the brains of people who are not depressed. Depressed people tend to show changes in the parts of the brain that regulate mood, behavior, sleep and appetite functions. Furthermore, depressed people tend to have an imbalance in neurotransmitters - the chemical messengers of your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulated mood and other body functions. Diminished serotonin levels may contribute to depression. Many anti-depression medications are targeted and serotonin to prevent its clearance or breakdown.


How Is Depression Treated?

Even severe depression is highly treatable - so the first step is to seek help from a medical professional. Your doctor may want to do some blood tests to rule out other conditions such as thyroid disorder, which can trigger depression. Certain medications can also exacerbate the problem.


For most people a combination of anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy is the most effective treatment. There are several different classes of medication and different types of talk therapy - so you should speak with your doctor about finding a treatment that works best for you. Many of these medications have side-effects - so it's important to have that conversation with your doctor.

There are also simple tips that can help everyone fend off blue moods and prevent depressive symptoms. Ensuring adequate sleep, getting enough exercise, reaching out to social supports, exposure to sunlight, and taking in Omega-3 fatty acids are all great first-line strategies to fight depression.


Visit these resources for diagnosing and treating depression:

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/
http://www.nami.org
http://www.dbsalliance.org
http://www.psych.org/