Clinical depression is a medical condition that makes you feel sad and apathetic for a period of at least two weeks. But it’s more than just feeling sad – depression affects how you think, act, and physically feel. People with depression often lose interest in activities and feel unmotivated to perform routine tasks like taking a shower or going to work.
Depression is a widespread disorder affecting over 16 million American adults. Even though treatment is widely available, only 65% of these people are seeking professional assistance.
Feeling hopeless about reversing your depression is one reason people often don’t seek out care. Reaching out for help is necessary if you want to feel better – because depression doesn’t just go away on its own.
We want you to know you’re not alone. You can be assured that mental health providers talk to those suffering from depression every day. And there's every reason to be hopeful – depression is often successfully treated with medicine, therapy, or a combination of the two.
Being clinically depressed can manifest in many ways. Some people are great at hiding their depression and getting through their day only to collapse into sadness once they’re alone. Others have a hard time even going through the motions of everyday life.
Everyone experiences depression differently, but here are some common symptoms you may be noticing in yourself or a loved one:
You don’t have to have a reason to feel depressed. And believe us when we tell you, it can happen to anyone.
You’ve probably heard depression is caused by chemical imbalances in your brain. But, your brain chemistry is just one thing that plays a role in developing clinical depression.
Depression is a complex condition caused by numerous factors, including
The explosion of research on the gut microbiome indicates that even your diet and gut health can contribute to developing depression.
Mental health providers use specific criteria, assessments, and professional clinical judgment to diagnose depression. Once diagnosed, your mental health provider will recommend appropriate medications and assist you in creating a treatment plan. Our goal is to help you overcome the feelings that are weighing you down and preventing you from truly living.
Understanding the type of depression you have helps you make sense of why you feel the way you do.
Types of depression include:
An expert mental health assessment is a critical first step for determining what kind of treatment is appropriate for you. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, there are many excellent, safe medications available called antidepressants to help correct the chemical imbalances causing you to feel this way.
There are many varieties of antidepressants, and they work differently depending on which medication class they belong to. In general, these drugs work by affecting how information is passed along nerve cells in your brain by chemical messengers.
In some people with depression, these chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, don’t convey messages properly. When this happens, the faulty messages can result in altered thinking and behavior patterns that cause depression symptoms. There are several classes of medications that affect how neurotransmitters function.
Sometimes, nerve cells release their neurotransmitter messenger, then suck a portion of it back into the cell. This process, called reuptake, lowers the number of neurotransmitters available to transfer messages.
Antidepressants known as reuptake inhibitors prevent the nerve cell from reabsorbing the neurotransmitters. This allows the neurotransmitters to hang out in the space between the cells, called the synapse. It’s thought that having higher levels of neurotransmitters in the synapses results in more correct messages being sent, regulating your mood.
Reuptake inhibitors are named for the neurotransmitters they affect: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
The three types of reuptake inhibitors are:
This class of drugs is the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant.
Cyclic antidepressants are an older class of antidepressants that work similarly to SNRIs in that they improve the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine, but they do so using a different chemical mechanism.
Even though they can be effective antidepressants, TCAs often negatively affect other chemical messengers. This causes bothersome side effects like drowsiness, weight changes, and sexual dysfunction. Because of this, they’re used less often than newer medications.
SARIs don’t only block serotonin reuptake – they direct serotonin to other receptors that make nerve cells function better, improving your mood.
MAOIs contain an inhibitor that prevents enzymes from breaking down neurotransmitters, leaving them available to transmit messages between neurons. This makes the messages clearer, helping your mood improve.
Have you been prescribed several antidepressants by your primary care provider and have not seen the results you are looking for? Do you just feel okay? Many times, our experts are able to prescribe adjunct treatments for depression. FDA-approved drugs that help boost the efficacy of your current antidepressant include:
Working with a board-certified mental health expert with extensive pharmacology experience is the best way to get a prescription that will work for you. Although it may take a few to several weeks for your medication to start working, you’ll be doing something to actively fight your depression.
Taking an FDA-approved medication that’s been tested and proven to provide benefits is very important. Be cautious of buying a supplement that promises to relieve your depression symptoms. They should not be used as a substitute for psychiatric care. These substances have not been scientifically proven to be safe and aren’t approved by the FDA.
Medication for depression needs to be taken regularly to work. Once your condition stabilizes, you should continue to check in with your provider to monitor your progress. Depending on your situation, you may need to increase your dose, change your medication, or stop taking it entirely.
Stopping your antidepressant should always be done under the supervision of your provider. There are often specific instructions for tapering off your medication. These instructions are extremely helpful for avoiding the side effects that may occur as your brain adjusts to not having the medicine in your system.
Reaching out to get help for clinical depression takes courage.
We’re here to make this step easier for you with our streamlined online diagnosis and prescription services. Medication helps people from all walks of life manage their depression and live the lives they want.
Getting help from a therapist, embracing exercise, learning to meditate, and setting achievable goals can also help improve your mood and better manage your symptoms. But many times, the best treatment is a combination of medication with these practices.
Contact us to set up an appointment with a compassionate, board-certified mental health practitioner who can give you a depression assessment and prescribe the medication that’s best for you.
Let’s do this together.
Take the next step to find out if you have clinical depression.
For more information, visit Anxiety & Depression Association of America
Learn about Upper Valley Behavioral Health’s Online Services