HELP FOR DEPRESSION
What is it (and what is it not):
Depression, by definition, is a mis-communication (chemical imbalance) in the brain that makes it difficult to for the cells to communicate properly to each other. Whether this is caused by genetics, learned responses (environment), or choice, it is REAL, and it really hurts. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 19 million people in the United States — 1 in 10 adults — experience depression each year and women are twice as likely as men to experience depression.
Diagnostically, depression is in the mood disorder category. A key difference from the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder is that you do not suffer from the manic state(s) that occur in Bipolar Disorder. With depression, your moods tend to be low and stay low, often for long periods of time. If your moods tend to fluctuate greatly in intensity from one end of the mood spectrum (low) to the other extreme (high), see your doctor or therapist to talk about your symptoms and make sure you are properly diagnosed and treated. Although depression and anxiety are often co-existent in many people, depression differs from anxiety in that anxiety is based in overwhelming, often catastrophic fears.
Are you Depressed? Take this simple quiz:
Do you have any of these Depression Symptoms often or nearly all the time?
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Isolation tendencies (not wanting to participate in relationships), no motivation
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying
- Feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
- Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning awakening
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
If you answered “Yes” to many or most of these, seek help for treating your depression. To schedule an appointment with a therapist that specializes in your symptoms and treatment, click here.
What causes depression?
Although it is not known for sure what causes depression, some possible causes of depression are: life stress, guilt or shame from choices you (or someone else for you) have made, grief and loss, major life changes, unresolved past issues, birth control pills and other medications (can be a side effect), sleep disorders, PMS, hormonal changes, family history, medical illness (chronic pain), poor partner support, financial problems, lack of sunlight, and social isolation.
What treatments are available?
Some of the most popular and successful current treatments for depression are Talk Therapy (Interpersonal Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are the most popular) and medication. Some other well-accepted and widely used alternative therapies are biofeedback, massage therapy and medical massage therapy as well as ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy-this is generally used as a last resort if patients have not responded to other treatments because of the risks involved), hypnosis, yoga and other meditative therapies.
What can you do to help your depression yourself?
Some do’s and don’ts when you’re depressed:
- Do exercise regularly to feel better and to have more energy
- Do eat balanced and healthy meals and snacks
- Do get the proper amount of sleep
- Do take your medicine(s) according to prescription
- Do go to counseling and follow through on your recommended treatment plan
- Do set small, achievable goals for yourself, especially if you have less energy
- Do encourage yourself with positive self-talk
- Do seek to acquire as much information as you can about depression and treatment
- Do call your doctor, therapist or 911 or go to your local suicide crisis center or emergency room right away if you start thinking about suicide
- Follow your action plan for depression
- Don’t isolate yourself, be around people like your loved ones and friends, your spiritual advisor, and your family doctor
- Don’t make major life decisions (for example, about separation or divorce). You may not be thinking clearly right now, so your decisions may not be the best ones for you.
- Don’t be discouraged about not feeling well right away. Be patient with yourself.
- Don’t give up.
Child/Teen Depression (for parents):
If you believe that your child or teen is suffering from depression, seek help right away. Some of the symptoms to look for in your child are:
- They have markedly reduced interest in things they used to enjoy
- Cries easily or has little or reduced emotional expression
- Problems sleeping or eating
- Irritable, angry outbursts
- Thoughts of suicide or self-destructive behaviors.
- Has difficulty remembering things, making decisions
Don’t wait to get treatment because depression can lead to other behaviors that are damaging, like drug or alcohol abuse. Seek help right away for you child, early treatment can greatly help your child achieve wellness.