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Understanding Depression Disguises

Many people think of depression as an intolerable sadness or a deep gloom that just won't go away. Yet depression can also be sneaky, disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you've had unexplained aches or pains, often feel irritable or angry for no reason, or cry at the drop of a hat -- you could be depressed.

Fortunately, you can be proactive with depression. Learn how these less obvious symptoms can reveal themselves and when you should seek out depression treatment.

Common Depression Symptoms

Common symptoms of depression include feeling sad, hopeless, or empty or having lost interest in the things that previously gave you pleasure. But other, less obvious symptoms also may signal depression, including:

Depression Symptoms: Men and Women May Differ

Not everyone has the same signs and symptoms of depression. In fact, men and women may experience depression differently. Women more often describe feeling sad, guilty, or worthless when they are depressed.

Men are more likely to feel tired, angry, irritable, and frustrated, and they often have more sleep problems. A man may feel less interested in hobbies, activities, and even sex. He may focus excessively on work in order to avoid talking with friends and family about how he feels. Men also may be more likely to behave recklessly and use drugs or alcohol to deal with depression. Some men with depression can become abusive. More women attempt suicide than men do, but men are more likely to succeed -- almost four times as many men die from suicide as do women.

Many men do not acknowledge feelings or symptoms of depression. They don't want to admit that something may be wrong or talk about their feelings. But men and women can both get better with treatment.

Depression Symptoms: When to Seek Treatment

It can be hard to admit to yourself that you may be depressed, let alone ask for help. Here are two good reasons why you should consider depression treatment:

Talk to someone. There are many people willing to help you overcome depression, but the first step you have to take on your own is to let someone know how you are feeling. It may help to start by talking to a close friend or family member. Ask them for support in finding depression treatment. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will start to feel better. Don't hesitate -- call your doctor or a medical health professional if:

If you have thoughts about dying or committing suicide, seek immediate medical help. You may feel hopeless now, but treatment will give you hope -- and help you see that life is worth living.

Depression Treatment: Give it Time to Work

Certain medications and medical conditions such as thyroid problems can cause symptoms of depression, so your doctor may want to rule them out. If your doctor thinks you may be depressed, he or she can refer you to a mental health professional.

Depression treatment involves either antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or both. People with mild to moderate depression can benefit from therapy alone. People with more severe depression usually do better with medication and therapy. Note that once you start treatment, you may notice improvements in symptoms such as sleep or appetite before you begin to feel less depressed.

Antidepressants work by affecting brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Antidepressants effectively treat depression in most people who take them. However, they can take four to six weeks to notice an effect, so it's important to be patient. Antidepressants can also have side effects, including weight gain and sexual problems. It may take some time to find the right medication that works best for you with the fewest side effects.

Psychotherapy treats depression by helping you:

It can take time to break old patterns of thinking and behavior, so give therapy some time to work.

Depression Treatment: How to Help Yourself

In addition to the help and support you get from your therapist and/or doctor, there are a few things you can do on your own that will help you feel better: