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Major depression


Alternative Names:

Depression - major; Unipolar depression; Major depressive disorder

Signs and tests:

Your health care provider will ask about your medical history and symptoms. Your answers can help your doctor diagnose depression and determine how severe it may be.

Blood and urine tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions that have symptoms similar to depression.

Expectations (prognosis):

You may start feeling better a few weeks after starting treatment. If you take medicine, you will need to stay on the medicine for several months to feel good and prevent depression from returning. If your depression keeps coming back, you may need to stay on your medicine for a long period.

Chronic depression may make it harder for you to manage other illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease. Ask your doctor for help in managing these health problems.

Alcohol or drug use can make depression worse. Talk to your doctor about getting help.

Calling your health care provider:

If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others, call your local emergency number (such as 911) right away. Or go to the hospital emergency room.

You can also call a suicide hotline 24 hours a day: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-999-9999.

Call your doctor right away if:

  • You hear voices not coming from people around you.
  • You have frequent crying spells with little or no reason.
  • Your depression is disrupting work, school, or family life.
  • You think that your current medicine is not working or is causing side effects. Do not stop or change your medicine without talking to your doctor.
Resources:

Learn more about depression by contacting a local mental health clinic. Your workplace employee assistance program (EAP) is also a good resource. Online resources can also provide good information.

References:

Fava M, Cassano P. Mood disorders: Major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 29.

American Psychiatric Association. Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder, third edition. October 2010. Available at http://psychiatryonline.org/content.aspx?bookid=28&sectionid=1667485. Accessed March 21, 2013.


Review Date: 3/8/2013
Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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