U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Talk with Your Doctor about Depression

The Basics

If you think you might be depressed, talk with a doctor about how you are feeling.

What is depression?
Depression is a serious illness that involves the brain. It can affect your thoughts, mood, and daily activities. Depression is more than feeling sad for a few days.

If you are diagnosed with depression, you aren’t alone. Depression is a common illness that affects millions of adults in the United States every year.

The good news is that depression can be treated. Getting help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. You can feel better.

What are the signs of depression?
It’s normal to feel sad sometimes, but if you feel sad or “down” for more than 2 weeks at a time, you may be depressed.

Depression affects people differently. Some signs of depression are:

  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Forgetting things or having trouble making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Thinking about suicide or death
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

Take this quiz to see if you might be depressed.

How is depression treated?
Depression can be treated with talk therapy, medicines (called antidepressants), or both. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for talk therapy or medicine.

Getting active and eating healthy can also help with depression.

Check out these websites to learn more about depression:

Take Action!

Take Action!

Depression is a real illness. If you think you might be depressed, see your doctor.

Talk to a doctor about how you are feeling.
Get a medical checkup. Ask to see a doctor or nurse who can test you for depression.

The doctor or nurse may also test you for other health conditions (like thyroid disease) that can cause depression or make it worse. If you have one of these health conditions, it’s important to get treatment right away.

What about cost?
Screening for depression is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010.

Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get screened at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company, and ask about the Affordable Care Act.

If you don’t have insurance, you can look for free or low-cost mental health services. Find mental health services near you.

Get support.
Seeking help is the best thing you can do for yourself, and the best way to start feeling better. If you don’t know where to go for help, ask your doctor for a referral.

Check out this guide to finding a mental health professional [PDF - 442 KB].

Here are some places you can go to for help with depression:

  • Doctor’s office or health clinic
  • Family service or social service agency
  • Church or clergy person
  • Psychologist (“sy-KAH-lah-jist”)
  • Counselor or social worker
  • Psychotherapist (“sy-koh-THAYR-uh-pist”)

Get more ideas for building your support system.

If someone you care about is depressed, get help.
If you think a friend or family member may be depressed, check out these tips on how to talk to a loved one about depression.

Find more resources for people living with a mental illness.

Get help right away if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.

Get active.
Getting active can lower your stress level as you begin treatment for depression. It can also help keep you from getting depressed again.

Eat healthy.
Eating healthy can help with depression. A healthy diet will give you energy and lower your stress level as you begin treatment for depression.

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