Symptoms and treatment

It is natural for people to feel sad or down at times. However, some people have intense unhappy feelings that may last for weeks or months. When this happens it is possible that the person has an illness called depression.

Depression is common, affecting about 10% of the American population. People with chronic medical issues such as diabetes and heart disease are more likely to develop depression. Also, women (especially around times of pregnancy and after giving birth) are at higher risk for developing depression.

Depression has distinct symptoms but the way people experience these symptoms and how frequently the symptoms occur will vary from person to person. Some people will have just one short episode with mild symptoms while others will have frequent episodes with more severe symptoms.

Depression is not a personal weakness but a biological illness, similar to diabetes or arthritis. People in need of help for depression should consult with their doctor just as they would for an infection, pain or other illness.

Treatment options

Treatment for depression consists of medication, talking therapy or a combination of these. Results are often successful with over 80% of those getting help for depression obtaining relief.

  • Depression is a disease that affects many people and can seriously disrupt work, relationships and school.
  • Depression is difficult to live with but it can be effectively treated.
  • If you think you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please discuss this with your health care provider. You can also call the mental health department at 800-208-9565 for confidential assistance with benefit information and/or locating a mental provider in your area.

Please read our Depression brochure.
Spanish version: Depresión

Follow prescriber’s instructions on taking antidepressant medication

Antidepressant medications are used to help treat depression and other mood disorders. For antidepressant medications to work properly, it is important to follow your prescriber’s instructions and to take the correct dose. If you have been prescribed an antidepressant, follow these important guidelines to get better results:

  • Take antidepressant medication as prescribed.
  • Do not skip a dose. If you do miss a dose, take the next pill as scheduled; do not take two doses. Check with your prescriber or pharmacist to understand what to do if you miss a dose of your medication.
  • Do not stop taking antidepressants without checking with your provider.
  • It may take up to 4 – 6 weeks for antidepressants to provide a noticeable effect.
  • You may get side effects from this medication. If you get side effects that cause you problems, you should talk to your doctor.
  • You may get withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking antidepressant medications. You should talk to your prescriber before you stop taking them.
  • Continue to take this medication even if you are feeling better.
  • Contact your provider if you have questions or concerns about your medication.
  • Be sure to make and keep follow up appointments.

If you are interested in locating a provider for counseling, contact our behavioral health department at 800-208-9565.

Depression symptom checklist

If you've had five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks (*including at least 1 of the 2 that are marked with an asterisk), you may have a major depressive disorder. If you've had even a few of these symptoms, you may have a less serious depressive disorder. Both conditions are treatable and should be discussed with your health care provider.

  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, including sex*
  • Feeling sad, blue, or "down in the dumps"*
  • Feeling slowed down or restless and unable to sit down
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Changes in appetite or weight (loss or gain)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Problems concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or feeling tired all of the time

Other symptoms indicative of depression may include:

  • Headaches
  • Other aches and pains
  • Sexual problems
  • Digestive problems (upset stomach, etc.)
  • Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • Being anxious or worried