Everyone gets down now and again, but if you suspect that you may have depression, especially if the bad feelings last for several days, then you need to see your doctor. The symptoms that you may display such as tiredness, poor sleep, loss of libido, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, could be similar to those of other unrelated illnesses. He or she will give you a full assessment and qualified diagnosis of your problem.

But even with your own doctor's examination, you may still be sent to see a specialist before treatment is prescribed. There is absolutely no need to feel embarrassed or shy when talking to any professionals about your problems. After all, that's what they are trained for, and it's very important at this stage to get the diagnosis correct for your particular illness.

One thing you must remember, and that is, depression is also a real illness. Everyone can sympathize with a broken leg, or someone having an operation. But depression is different in that there are usually no obvious signs that something is very wrong, and people suffering with the illness are very good at covering it up when near others, tending instead to suffer in silence and alone. Depression is nothing to be ashamed or feel guilty about.

You must not think that your problem will just go away by “toughening up” or “pulling yourself together”. Nor will it disappear by going on a spending spree, or a holiday abroad. Of course, this may help in the short-term, but without professional help, things will soon be back to where they were before.

Although serious, you will be pleased to know that depression is very treatable, but usually only with help, not just from medical professionals, but also friends and family too. Make sure they understand how you are feeling and readily accept any support offered. You may be surprised how supportive people can be in these situations, even though it is a “hidden” illness which makes it difficult for some folk to comprehend.

Let's look at the types of treatment you may be offered for depression.

There are always differences of opinion as to what type of treatment should be offered first to a patient. The options are basically talk therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Take your doctor's advice on this because everyone is different, and what works well for one patient may not work so well for another.

If you are seeing a psychologist, you will be talking through your problems. A psychiatrist will also use talk therapy, but is qualified to prescribe drugs as well if necessary.

Which ever treatment path you take for depression, the important thing is that you are taking that first step, which every journey begins with, no matter how long it may be.