Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: How can I treat mild depression?

Q. I have been feeling sad and without much interest in my social life for the past few weeks. My doctor diagnosed me with mild depression. She asked that I come back in a month for follow-up. Isn't there something else I should do to feel better?

A. Mild depression is more common in women than in men. When you're depressed, you may have symptoms like a sad mood, crying spells, lack of pleasure in your regular activities, anxiousness, or irritability. You might also feel physical symptoms, like gastrointestinal discomfort (diarrhea, nausea, pain, or vomiting), chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and sexual problems. Depression can interfere with your concentration, memory, and decision-making ability and make you feel worthless and hopeless.

Minor depression is transient and should eventually go away. You can help yourself feel better by exercising regularly—a proven mood booster—and by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation. But if your symptoms persist or get worse, or if you start feeling suicidal, don't wait. Call your doctor. Therapy and perhaps medication can help bring relief.

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