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A health professional diagnoses depression after taking a thorough medical and psychiatric history. The medical examination will determine whether or not the symptoms the individual is experiencing are caused by an illness other than depression. The psychiatric evaluation will review the individualís symptoms, current life stressors and situation, treatment history, history of mental illness individualís family and assess the personís thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

More than 80% of people with depression improve with treatment by the end of one year. There are two principal treatments for depression -- medication and psychotherapy. For some, just one or the other is sufficient. For others, the most effective treatment is a combination of the two. Some people are helped by electroconvulsive therapy or self-help groups.

Why get treatment? Will it work?

 People with depression need treatment in order to function fully and modulate the chance of recurrence. Treatment is highly effective. With appropriate treatment, many people can experience improvement in as little as 8 weeks. In addition, the costs to not getting treatment are very high. People can lose their jobs, destroy relationships, and isolate themselves from their communities. Physical and mental health suffer as well.

Depression is also costly to society. Studies indicate that the cost of clinical depression exceeds $47.3 billion annually. Fully $24 billion is comprised of lost productivity and worker absenteeism on the job.

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