Depression Treatment Online

Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It can cause severe symptoms that affect your feelings, thoughts and every day activities, such as sleeping, eating or working.

Depression

Depression symptoms can vary, but patients typically experience:

  • Persistent sadness or anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities they typically enjoy
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Restlessness or struggling to sit still 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping 
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight

Diagnosing and Treating Depression Online

Sadness is a very common emotion and will typically pass with time. If it seems to be lasting longer than a couple of weeks, it could be depression. Depression is often referred to by doctors as "major depressive disorder" or "clinical depression" and is by no means a reflection of someone’s personality traits or character. It is, however, something to take seriously — most people need treatment to get better.

 

Causes and Risk Factors

Depression is often caused by a combination of factors including: 

  • Biological traits: Those who suffer from depression have physical differences in their brains. 
  • Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, may impact mood stability and have a role in depression.
  • Hormones: The body has a natural balance of hormones, which can sometimes cause or trigger depression.
  • Inherited traits: Genetics plays a key role in depression — it is more common among those who have blood relatives with the same condition. 
  • Environmental factors: Stressful or adverse life events can be precipitants to depressive episodes.  

 

The key risk factors for depression include:

  • Family history: Those who have blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or suicide are at risk of suffering from depression themselves. 
  • Trauma or stress: This may include physical or sexual abuse, the loss of a loved one, difficult relationships, or financial obstacles.
  • Medical history: A history of other mental disorders such as an anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can lead to depression. 
  • Medications: The most common types of medications that might put someone at a higher risk of depression include high blood pressure and sleep disorder medications.

 

Medical Issues Related to Depression

If left untreated, depression can lead to physical obstacles and more serious emotional concerns. It can also interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life. This is why it’s important to reach out for help and support. 

Physical:

  • Risk of heart attack: Those who suffer from depression are more at risk of dying from a heart attack. 
  • Weight fluctuations: Depression can cause over or under eating and a general tendency to use food as a coping mechanism. This can lead to obesity, stomachaches, and/or nutritional deficiencies. 
  • Risk of cardiovascular disease: Depression can cause blood vessels to constrict, which may ultimately lead to certain kinds of heart disease. 
  • Increased pain sensitivity: Depression may heighten head and body aches and make it difficult to manage pain in general. 
  • Fatigue: Depression can take a toll on a person’s energy levels, leaving them feeling lethargic during the daytime.
  • Reduced sex drive: Untreated depression causes a loss of interest in many activities, which can include sex. 
  • Weakened immune system: Depression reduces the ability to fight off diseases as benign as the common cold and as serious as cardiovascular disease. 

Emotional: 

  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness: Depression can lead to long-lasting negative emotions. 
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling or staying asleep at night due to a restless body and/or mind is typical for cases of untreated depression.
  • Cognitive difficulties: Trouble with memory, decision making, and/or concentration are especially common for adults with depression. 
  • Thoughts of self harm: Depression can lead to increased risk of self-harm and suicide. 

 

Types of Depression

The five main types identified by the National Mental Health Institute include: 

  • Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, which lasts two or more years and can be mild or severe. This kind of depression isn’t as extreme as major depressive disorder, though it can still be characterized as an inability to enjoy day-to-day activities for an extended period of time. 
  • Postpartum depression, (PPD) which involves feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion following the birth of a child. It is different from the “baby blues” mainly because of its severity. A person diagnosed with PPD may have difficulty bonding with their baby, fear of inadequacy as a mother, struggle to care for themselves and their baby, and thoughts of harming themselves and/or their baby. If left untreated, PPD can last for several months or longer. 
  • Psychotic depression, which is a kind of schizophrenic disorder and occurs when someone experiences depression alongside delusions and hallucinations. The delusions can sometimes be related to guilt, poverty, or illness. 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which typically occurs at the beginning of winter and is caused by the decrease in sunlight. The symptoms of SAD can vary based on the season. During the fall and winter, a person suffering from SAD may oversleep and gain weight; during the spring and summer they could have trouble sleeping and lose weight. Because SAD is dependent on seasons, it is important to take into account a person’s geographic location and whether they may be getting too much or too little sunlight in a given day.
  • Bipolar disorder, which usually involves low moods followed by emotional highs. The dramatic fluctuation between major depression (lows) and mania (highs) can be very disruptive to a person’s life — impacting their job, relationships, and overall happiness. 

 

Symptoms of depression can also vary by age, but usually begin during adulthood. For children and adolescents who experience depression, symptoms may include irritability or a change in attitude and behavior that causes distress in school, at home, in social situations, or in other areas of life. This kind of depression is unique to children and teens in that it is associated with peer pressure, academics, and puberty.

 

Treatment Options

There are many treatments available to help with depression. Depending on the cause and severity of depression, your treatment plan may include:

  • Psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, or problem-solving therapy. Psychotherapy is a great treatment for those suffering from depression because they have the opportunity to uncover and work through their obstacles with someone else. Therapy also offers a sense of support and partnership. 
  • Medications, which will usually be an antidepressant. Medications are a good treatment option for those suffering from depression because they can be highly effective and low maintenance. Taking medicine doesn’t often require quite as much energy and time as some of the other treatment options. 
  • Lifestyle adjustments including establishing a daily routine, exercising, boosting nutrition, and getting enough sleep. Lifestyle adjustments can be useful when treating depression because they involve seemingly small, but significant, changes to a person’s day-to-day life that can impact their overall health and wellbeing. These kinds of adjustments can also improve all aspects of a person’s life.

Prevention  

While depression can be daunting, there are some things you can do to help either prevent or minimize its impact on your everyday life. Here are a few tips to consider: 

  • Try to control your stress, increase your resiliency, and boost self-esteem.
  • Connect with loved ones who can offer support and comfort.
  • Seek treatment early to prevent worsening symptoms.
  • Consider long-term treatment, which can sometimes help prevent symptoms from returning. 

 

Discussing Depression with an Online Therapist 

Online therapists are here to help with depression. During a video consultation on Amwell, your therapist or psychiatrist will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine the best treatment plan for you. This will be based on duration and severity of symptoms and your medical history. Your provider may also ask about your work and home environments as well as your lifestyle habits. Once your provider makes a diagnosis, they will review the risks and benefits of various treatment plans. 

Because you will be getting care at home rather than in person, you don’t need to worry about traveling to the provider’s office — especially when you may already be feeling emotionally and/or physically drained. Home may also be a much more familiar and comfortable environment compared to a provider’s office. Plus, appointments are available at convenient times, including nights and weekends.

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Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1‑844‑SEE‑DOCS for questions about our services or to speak to a doctor about your symptoms or conditions.

  • What is melancholia?

    Melancholia is a form of severe depression where many physicial symptoms of depression are present. Very common symptoms typically include:

    • When a person starts to move more slowly
    • They are more likely to have a depressed mood that can be characterised by a complete loss of pleasure
  • What is antenatal, postnatal, and perinatal depression?

    Unfortunately, women are at a higher risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth. Depression during pregnancy is typically referred to antenatal depression and depression after childbirth is referred to as postnatal. Pernital depression typically describes the period covering pregnancy and the first year after childbirth. After a woman goes through pregnancy, there can be major hormonal changes, which is referred to as 'baby blues' - this affects up to 80% of women. The 'baby blues' are very common in women and are different than depression. Depression affects about 10% of women during pregnancy and 16% of women in the first three months after childbirth.

  • How do I know if I have depression?

    Everyone experiences feelings of sadness or despair in the lives, these are human emotions that are a part of life. When these feelings do not subside after a few days or persist outside of a distressing life event like a breakup or loss, you may be experiencing an episode of Depression. Major Depression is a common, yet serious clinical illness that requires help by a trained professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. In order to be diagnosed with Major Depression, several symptoms need to be present nearly every day for at least 2 weeks including:

    1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feeling sad, blue, “down in the dumps,” or empty) or observations made by others (e.g., appears tearful or about to cry). (In children and adolescents, this may present as an irritable or cranky, rather than sad, mood.)
    2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities every day, such as no interest in hobbies, sports, or other things the person used to enjoy doing
    3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 percent of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
    4. Insomnia (inability to get to sleep or difficulty staying asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly every day
    5. More days than not, problems with sitting still, including constant restlessness, pacing, or picking at one’s clothes (called psychomotor agitation by professionals); or the opposite, a slowing of one’s movements, talking very quietly with slowed speech (called psychomotor retardation by professionals)
    6. Fatigue, tiredness, or loss of energy nearly every day — even the smallest tasks, like dressing or washing, seem difficult to do and take longer than usual
    7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day (e.g., ruminating over minor past failings)
    8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (e.g., appears easily distracted, complains of memory difficulties)

     

  • What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

    SAD is a mood disorder that has a seasonal pattern. It is unclear what the true cause of this disorder is. Although, studies have found that it is related to the variation in light exposure in different seasons. This disorder typically starts in winter and ends when spring rolls around.

  • What is major depressive disorder?

    Major depression is the most common form of depression. It is sometimes called major depression, clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply 'depression.' Major depressive disorder is typically when one has a low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities. Other symptoms can be a factor in depression and most of these symptoms will last for at least two weeks. Depression can be described as mild, moderate or severe. Severe cases of depression are either melancholia or psychotic.

  • What is dysthymia?

    Dysthymia is very similar to major depressive disorder, but it is less severe. However, dysthymia symptoms typically last longer. To be diagnosed with dysthymia, a person will have this milder form of depression for more than two years.

  • What does it mean to have high functioning depression?

    Depression is not a “state of mind” or attitude problem that can be changed by simply “thinking more positively”. These are unfortunate misconceptions that perpetuate stigma which can lead to hiding the severity of symptoms and not seeking help. Depression is a medical condition that includes biological, chemical and medical factors.

    Many people who suffer from Depression are considered “high functioning” and will continue to achieve and perform at high levels and may go to great lengths to hide their symptoms. Often, the symptoms of Major Depression will make day to day functioning nearly impossible and these changes are noticeable to others. Many people though can experience these same symptoms with slightly less severity and maintain day to day functioning, so their depression is not as noticeable. It is important to realize that even when able to maintain functioning, people are suffering, and symptoms should not be minimized. A therapist can help to sort out the symptoms and factors of depression in order to establish an accurate diagnosis and develop a plan for treatment.

  • What are the differences between depression and grief/sadness?

    Loss can understandably lead to feelings of sadness, but with grief these feelings are specific to the person or situation that has been lost, while depression tends to be persistent across all areas of life. Depression can evolve from unresolved or prolonged grief. Sadness is a normal emotion that all humans experience throughout life; it can be a symptom of depression but oftentimes it is a relatively short period of feeling down. Depression lasts at least two weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms like the ones described above.

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