Depression, even the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder. As with many illnesses, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.
Appropriate treatment for depression starts with a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications, as well as some medical conditions such as viral infections or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same symptoms as depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation that includes a mental status examination should be done either by the physician or by referral to a mental health professional.
He or she should discuss any family history of depression including their treatment, and get a complete history of symptoms, such as when they started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, whether the patient had them before. And if so, whether the symptoms were treated and what treatment was given. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and if the patient has thoughts about death or suicide.
Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated with a number of methods. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.