How to Manage Depression

Depression is one of the most common health problems, affecting an estimated 16 million adults in the U.S. People with depression have feelings of sadness, loss, anger or frustration that interfere with their ability to enjoy life. Depression can make it harder to manage other chronic conditions you may have, like diabetes, asthma or heart disease. Getting a diagnosis and the right treatment can help most people who suffer from major depression.

Diagnosed with depression? Here's what to do:

  • Learn about depression and become an active participant in the management of your depression, including through counseling and medication.
  • Keep follow-up doctor appointments. Take any prescribed antidepressant medications for at least 12 weeks to allow time to feel better. Stay on the prescribed antidepressant for at least six to nine months to lower the chances that depression will become a chronic problem for you.
  • Ask your provider if a generic medication is available to reduce your costs.
  • Tell your doctor if you are having any problems with the medication.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements.
  • Talk with your family and friends about your treatment plan so they can provide support.
  • Plan and engage in pleasant activities, including physical and social activities.
  • Develop a healthy sleep pattern and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Use the Community Checkup website to see which providers score well in behavioral health services.

What should your doctor do?

  • Screen you for major depression, especially if you are at high risk or have other chronic illnesses, using a standardized screening tool that asks questions about how you feel.
  • Talk with you about treatment options, including counseling and medication.
  • If you are diagnosed with depression, your doctor should contact you with first follow-up at one to two weeks, then every four to eight weeks.
  • If you are prescribed an antidepressant, carefully monitor your use of the medication and make necessary adjustments if you are not improving.