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Depression (cont.)

When to Call a Doctor

Call or the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or other emergency services if you (or someone you care about):

  • Plan to harm yourself or others.
  • Talk, write, read, or draw about death, including writing suicide notes and talking about items that can harm you, such as pills, guns, or knives.
  • Buy guns or bullets, stockpile medicines, or take other action to prepare for a suicide attempt. You may have a new interest in guns or other weapons.
  • Hear or see things that aren't real.
  • Think or speak in a bizarre way that is not like your usual behavior.

Suicide is much more likely in people who have depression than in people who are not depressed. If someone you know has depression, know the warning signs of suicide, which include giving away things, talking about suicide, or suddenly using lots of alcohol or drugs.

If you have been diagnosed with depression, call your doctor if:

  • You find it hard or it's getting harder to deal with your job, family, and friends.
  • You think your treatment is not helping or you are not getting better.
  • Your symptoms get worse or you get new symptoms.
  • You have any problems with your antidepressant medicines, such as side effects, or you are thinking about stopping your medicine.
  • You are having manic behavior, such as having very high energy, needing less sleep than normal, or showing risky behavior such as spending money you don't have or abusing others verbally or physically.

If you have not been diagnosed with depression, but you think you may be depressed, use the Feeling Depressed topic to check your symptoms.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you may not need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide what to do next. Watchful waiting may be right for you if you have feelings of grief or sadness because you have lost a loved one or have had a stressful life event.

If symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks, or if you think about suicide, talk with your doctor as soon as you can.

It also may help to discuss your symptoms with a close and trusted friend or family member. Sometimes another person can see changes in your mood or behavior sooner than you can.

Who to see

There any many types of professionals who treat depression and many types of treatments. A good place to start is with your family doctor. If treatment by your doctor does not help you, the next step is to see a mental health professional.

Whomever you see, it is important that this person has experience treating people with depression and is trained in proven therapies. It is also important that you establish a good long-term relationship. If you don't feel comfortable with one doctor or therapist, try another one.

Health professionals who can diagnose depression and prescribe medicine include:

Treatment such as professional counseling or therapy can be provided by:

Other health professionals who also may be trained in treating depression include:

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eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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