ZocdocAnswersWhen should a person with depression seek help?

Question

When should a person with depression seek help?

When is it time to see a doctor about depression? I'm an older man and I've dealt with depression since I was a teenager. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but sometimes I feel like I can really live with it. I've heard it can make it worse to go without help, but I don't want to take medicine if it isn't necessary.

Answer

The answer is that a person with depressive symptoms should seek medical attention right away. There is no value in delaying treatment because depression rarely goes away on its own and, as you said, it can get worse over time without help. The symptoms you are describing may be considered a sub-entity of depression known as dysthymic disorder. Patients with dysthymic disorder often describe a semi-depressed moods their whole life with occasional times when it gets worse. Either way, dysthymic disorder and major depression syndrome are treated the same way. If your symptoms are consistent with depression, the first thing your doctor will likely do is rule out other causes of depression such as hypothyroidism. Then they will prescribe an antidepressant medication that increases levels of serotonin and/or nor-epinephrine in your brain (examples include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or citalopram (Celexa). After about 4 weeks, if you have true depression, you will begin feeing better. I suggest you schedule an appointment with you primary care physician right away to discuss the options for treatment. The medicines of today can have amazing results in patients suffering from depression with few if any side effects. Good luck.

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