Depression Is Treatable

Depression, even in its most severe form, is highly treatable.

Early Treatment Is More Effective

As with many illnesses, getting treatment early is more effective and reduces the chance of recurrence. And because it often co-occurs with other illnesses in older adults, untreated depression may delay recovery from or worsen the outcome of other illnesses. It is important to remember that a person with depression cannot simply "snap out of it."

Be Persistent

Treatment choices differ for each person, and sometimes different treatments must be tried until one works for a particular person. It is important to keep trying until you find something that works for you.

The most common forms of treatment for depression are medication and psychotherapy. For cases in which medication and/or psychotherapy does not help relieve symptoms of depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be useful.

If You Think You Have Depression

If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider. This could be your primary doctor or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist). Certain medications and some medical conditions can cause the same symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests. If the doctor can find no medical condition that may be causing the depression, the next step is a psychological evaluation.

Making an Appointment

If you need to make an appointment, here are some things you could say during the first call: “I haven’t been myself lately, and I’d like to talk to the provider about it,” or “I think I might have depression, and I’d like some help.”

Talking to Your Doctor

How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. But talking to your doctor isn’t always easy. It takes time and effort on your part as well as your doctor’s.

To prepare for your appointment, make a list that includes

  • any symptoms you’ve had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • all medications, vitamins, or other supplements that you’re taking, including how much and how often
  • questions to ask your health provider.

If you don’t have a primary doctor or are not at ease with the one you currently see, now may be the time to find a new doctor. Whether you just moved to a new city, changed insurance providers, or had a bad experience with your doctor or medical staff, it is worthwhile to spend time finding a doctor you can trust.

For a list of helpful resources, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).