Depression is more than a feeling of simply being unhappy or fed up for a few days. We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people still think that depression is a trivial issue and not a genuine health condition but they are wrong as depression is a real illness, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can treat yourself for without professional help. It can be caused by stress, anxiety and adverse circumstances, genetic causes, pregnancy, change of seasons etc.

There are many different types of depression with different causes, symptoms and treatments. Some of these include:

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Appetite or unexpected weight changes

  • Sleep problems

  • Concentration and memory problems

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

  • Thoughts of death or suicide​

If you or a loved one is facing depressive episodes, seek help from your doctor at the Mind and Brain Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You may be assured of receiving quality medical care, additional information and medical advice from our doctors. You can also consult doctors from the Family Health Services for a preliminary examination. You can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so makes sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.
There are no specific tests for depression, so your doctor will examine you and do some urine or blood tests to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms, such as stroke, brain tumour or underactive thyroid. The main way to diagnose depression is by asking you lots of questions about your general health and enquiring about if the way you are feeling is affecting you mentally and physically.

It is important to be open and honest with your doctor. Describing your symptoms and how they are affecting you will really help him/her understand if you have depression and how severe it is. Your doctor will conduct a mental health evaluation and discuss with any family history of bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses. He/she will get a complete history of your symptoms and may also talk to your close relatives or spouse about your symptoms and family medical history.

Depression is often related to other illnesses as well. Anxiety disorders often accompany depression, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Alcohol and other substance abuse or dependence may also co-exist with depression, as well as other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease.
Once diagnosed, you can be treated in several ways. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.

Medication such as antidepressants primarily work on brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are involved in regulating your mood. There are various types available and your doctor will prescribe the one that suits your particular case best. All antidepressants must be taken for at least 4 to 6 weeks before they have a full effect. You should continue to take the medication, even if you are feeling better, to prevent the depression from returning. Medication should be stopped only under a doctor's supervision otherwise it can cause withdrawal symptoms or lead to a relapse of the depression. Sometimes stimulants, anti-anxiety medications, or other medications are used together with an antidepressant, especially if you have another disorder.

Psychotherapy is another effective option to treat depression. Several types of psychotherapy option can help you if you are suffering from depression. CBT (Cognitive-behavioural Therapy) and IPT (Interpersonal Therapy) are amongst the most common. CBT helps people with depression restructure negative thought patterns and improve their interactions with others in a positive and realistic way. IPT helps people understand and work through troubled relationships that may cause their depression, or make it worse.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.