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Should I see a doctor about depression?

Depression is not something you can diagnose yourself. You need a skilled healthcare practitioner for a correct diagnosis. There's no reason to feel embarrassed or shy about talking with your healthcare provider about any of your symptoms. Most healthcare professionals are very understanding. They have been trained to recognize depression.

Before you can get help for depression, you need a correct diagnosis. Many of the same symptoms you can have for depression - such as weight loss, sleeping problems, and fatigue - can be caused by other medical problems. In some cases, symptoms, such as a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, having difficulty paying attention, or memory problems, may not be caused by depression at all. Instead, they may indicate early Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or another health problem. See What Should I Tell About My Medical History?

You need to see a doctor so that you can be sure that your symptoms are being caused by depression and so you can get started on the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor will use a series of questions to help determine whether you have depression and may order tests to make sure you don't have other health problems.

Depression is a medical problem just like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. You have a real illness. It is not your fault. You wouldn't think less of anyone who had the flu or heart disease. Just the same, you shouldn't feel guilty or ashamed about suffering from depression.

You can't make depression go away by "being strong" or "toughing it out." Being weak-willed does not cause depression. Others can't make depression go away for you by "cheering you up." Depression usually doesn't go away on its own. You can't make it go away with exercise, vitamins, or a vacation. You can't treat depression on your own. As with any serious illness, depression requires professional treatment. When you have depression, you need help to make it go away.

Your feelings can and will change with treatment. In fact, depression is one of the most treatable illnesses.