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Overcoming Depression

Everybody feels “down” or “blue” at times. But, if these feelings are very strong or last for most of the day, nearly every day, they may be due to a medical illness called depression. The good news is that depression can be treated. But first you have to know you have it. People do not always know the warning signs of depression. Some of these signs are listed below. If you have four or more, be sure to talk to your doctor about depression. Place a check mark next to each sign that you have.

Warning Signs of Depression:

  • Changes in the way you feel
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or guilty most of the time
  • Feeling tired, low energy, or feeling “slowed down."
  • Crying a lot.
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death.
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
    o Sleep problems, either too much or too little.
    o Changes in appetite or weight (up or down).
  • Changes in your daily living.
    • Loss of interest and pleasure in daily activities.
    • Problems making decisions or thinking clearly.


The earlier you get treatment for depression, the sooner you will begin to feel better. The longer you wait, the harder depression is to treat.

Depression usually is treated with medicine, counseling, or medicine combined with counseling. Medicines for depression are not addicting or habit forming. They work for people with severe depression and may be useful for people with mild to moderate depression.

Treatment works gradually over several weeks. If you do not start to feel better after this time, call your doctor. It may take some time to find what works best for you.

For more information, read Depression Is A Treatable Illness, a booklet that answers some common questions about depression. To get a copy of this free booklet, written by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295.

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