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http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Signs and Symptoms

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability (more frequent in children)
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

 Antidepressant Medication must be taken daily and consistently.  The course of treatment may be 6 months to a year or longer if symptoms return.  Antidepressants take time – usually 2 to 4 weeks – to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems may  improve before mood lifts. It is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness.

There are potential side effects and all antidepressants have a warning regarding the increased risk of suicidal thinking.  It should be noted that research showed and increase of suicidal behavior after the black box warning came out prescribing practices reflected a seemingly more conservative approach/   In most cases suicide risk is reduced at the symptoms are treated.

Suicide Risk (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-suicide/art-20044308)

  • Having a psychiatric disorder, including depression
  • History of physical or sexual abuse or exposure to violence
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Physical or medical issues, for example, becoming pregnant or having an STD
  • Being the victim of bullying
  • Being uncertain of sexual orientation
  • Exposure to the suicide of a family member or friend
  • Begin adopted
  • Family history of mood disorder or suicidal behavior
  • Loss of or conflict with close friends or family members

Stopping medication abruptly can cause withdrawal effects.  Do not stop these medications without a taper plan.   Medications may not be needed after a period (usually 6mo to a year) of being symptom free ,so work with your provider to have an exit strategy.