Since babies, toddlers, and preschool children are usually unable to express their feelings in words, they tend to show sadness in their behaviors. For example, they may become withdrawn, resume old, younger behaviors (regress), or fail to thrive. School-age children might regress in their school performance, develop physical complaints, anxiety, or irritability. Interestingly, some children may try more, sometimes even excessively, to please others when depressed as a way of compensating for their low self-esteem. Therefore, their good grades and apparently good relationships with others may make depression harder to recognize.
Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.
People who wonder if they should talk to their health professional about whether or not they have depression might consider taking a depression quiz or self-test, which asks questions about depressive symptoms that are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the accepted diagnostic reference for mental illnesses. In thinking about when to seek medical advice about depression, the sufferer can benefit from considering if the sadness lasts more than two weeks or so or if the way they are feeling significantly interferes with their ability to function at home, school, work, or in their relationships with others. The first step to getting appropriate treatment is accurate diagnosis, which requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person may have a depressive illness, and if so, what type. As previously mentioned, the side effects of certain medications, as well as some medical conditions and exposure to certain drugs of abuse, can include symptoms of depression. Therefore, the examining physician should rule out (exclude) these possibilities through a clinical interview, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Many primary care doctors use screening tools, which are symptom tests, for depression. Such tests are usually questionnaires that help identify people who have symptoms of depression and may need to receive a full mental health evaluation.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) block the activity of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain and other parts of the body. MAOIs have many drug and food interactions and cause significant side effects in comparison to the new antidepressants. As such, MAOIs have been replaced by newer antidepressants that are safer and cause fewer side effects.
Antidepressants, sometimes in combination with psychotherapy, are often the first treatment people get for depression. If one antidepressant doesn't work well, you might try another drug of the same class or a different class of depression medicines altogether. Your doctor might also try changing the dose. In some cases, your doctor might recommend taking more than one medication for your depression.
As of today, there is no laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose a mental disorder. Even the powerful CT, MRI, SPECT, and PET scans, which can help diagnose other neurological disorders such as stroke or brain tumors, cannot detect the subtle and complex brain changes in psychiatric illness. However, these techniques are currently useful ruling out the presence of a number of physical disorders and in research on mental health and perhaps in the future they will be useful for the diagnosis of depression, as well.
Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the cause of your depression and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first step to feeling better and overcoming the problem.
It may be dangerous to take St. John’s wort if you also take other medicines. St. John’s wort can make many medicines not work at all or may cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. The medicines used to treat heart disease, HIV, depression, seizures, certain cancers, and organ transplant rejection may not work or may have dangerous side effects if taken with St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort may also make birth control pills not work, which increases the chance you will get pregnant when you don’t want to.12 It is crucial that you tell your doctor or nurse if you take St. John’s wort.
Many people living with high-functioning anxiety and depression are described as Type-A personalities or overachievers. They often excel at work or appear to be “super mom/dad” and seem to have it all under control. Other people may notice signs of high-functioning anxiety and depression but characterize the behaviors as “anal retentive” quirks or bad habits. And, many times, signs and symptoms of high-functioning depression and anxiety that others observe are given positive attributes, rather than being seen for what they are. For instance, anxiety and worry may be expressed as dwelling on minor details and viewed as perfectionism. What observers generally do not see are the private struggles with stress, sleeplessness, digestive issues, self-criticism, or feelings of sadness and gloom that had to be overcome to attain achievements.
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many. Several persistent symptoms in addition to low mood are required for a diagnosis of major depression, but people with only a few – but distressing – symptoms may benefit from treatment of their “subsyndromal” depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.