Signs of depression

Depression strikes one in four women and one in eight men sometime during their lifetimes. Yet two out of three of them don't get treatment. Are you one of them? You might be depressed if you feel:

Or if you have:

If you notice any of these in your daily life, tell your doctor of internal medicine (internist). The problems could stem from depression or other illnesses. Your internist will determine which.

A common illness - not a personal weakness

If you think you're depressed, here's what you should know: At least 20 million American adults suffer from depression, and it is on the rise — especially among the elderly. Depression can come from chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medications, or things going on in your life. It is not a passing blue mood that can be wished away. Your internist can help you find out why you are feeling this way.

A treatable illness

If you think you or a family member might be depressed, ask your internist about it. There are many effective antidepressant medications — old and new — nowadays. Should you need one of them, you and your internist will team up to choose the best medication for you.

What you need to know about antidepressant medication:

In addition to antidepressant medication, your internist might also refer you to a psychotherapist.

St. John's Wort: The jury's still out

St. John's Wort, an herbal product, has attracted a lot of attention for its antidepressant potential. It appears to be somewhat effective, at least in the short-term, and only for mild to moderate depression. The evidence of its effectiveness is limited. Most of the studies were done in Europe, where studies are based on preparations that may not be the same as what is being sold in the United States. The FDA does not standardize or verify ingredients of herbal products. Caution: If you are taking St. John's Wort, be sure to tell your internist. It can reduce the effect of certain prescription medications unrelated to depression or cause adverse drug interactions.