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Depression is a medical condition that affects about 1 in 10 U.S. adults. Also, experts estimate that some 5 percent of U.S. teens have moderate to severe major depression. Mood, thoughts, physical health, and behavior all may be affected. The symptoms and severity of depression can vary from person to person. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless (this can be a common symptom among adolescents)
  • Having problems with sleep and feeling tired
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing pain that doesn’t improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself.

Depression can be treated with conventional medicine, including antidepressants and certain types of psychotherapy.

Some people might consider complementary health approaches, such as St. John’s wort or S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), for depression. St. John’s wort, however, isn’t consistently effective for depression. Also, it limits the effectiveness of many prescription medicines. With SAMe, the evidence that SAMe supplements might be helpful for depression isn’t conclusive, and information on long-term safety is limited. Don’t use a complementary health approach to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about depression. For more information on depression, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's Web site.

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: February 2020