Learn more at: content.accenthealth.com/depression
Depression takes the joy out of life and makes it hard to carry out daily activities. Yet too many people struggle silently with depression.
Treatment can lighten your mood, strengthened your connections with loved ones, let you enjoy your interests and hobbies again and make you feel more like yourself.
Talk with your doctor:
Whether this is your first visit or a follow-up ask your doctor:
*How can I tell the difference between normal sadness and depression?
*What kind of depression might I have?
*Could an underlying health problem be causing my symptoms?
*Should I try medication to relieve my depression?
*Should I see a mental health professional? If so, what kind?
*What should I do if I feel like harming myself?
Your doctor may want to know:
*Have you noticed changes in your appetite, energy or sleep habits?
*Have you experienced a recent loss or stressful event in your life?
*How often have you felt down, depressed or hopeless over the last month?
* Have you taken less interest in doing things or gotten less pleasure from activities?
What is Depression?
Most people feel “down” or “blue” from time to time.
That’s normal but Depression is more than passing sadness, grief or disappointment. Depression is a major illness that takes the pleasure out of life, saps energy and makes it hard to get through the day.
It can also increase the risk of developing heart disease and other health problems. Anyone can get depressed and many people do.
Causes of depression include:
*chemical changes in the brain
Symptoms of Depression:
Depression comes in many forms.
Some of the symptoms include:
Symptoms can be as minor mood swings or as major as inability to function or thoughts of suicide. People with major depression have some combination of symptoms for two weeks or longer. Other signs include a loss of interest in sex, pessimistic or hopeless feelings, headaches, unexplained aches and pains or digestive problems.
*trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
*depressed mood most of the day, nearly everyday
*restless and agitation
*thoughts of worthlessness or guilt
*sluggish thinking and movement
*thinking often about death or suicide
*change in appetite
*inability to focus
*loss of interest or pleasure in most or all activities
Other signs include a loss of interest in sex, pessimistic or hopeless feelings, headaches, unexplained aches and pains or digestive problems.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a hotline that is free and available 24 hours a day.
Call 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call 911 or go to your local emergency room.
How can my doctor tell if I have depression?
Your doctor will want to know about your mood, experiences and overall health.
If your symptoms suggest depression, your doctor will want to know if you’ve been feeling sad or hopeless and whether you’ve noticed any changes in your appetite, sex drive or sleep pattern.
Your doctor should also evaluate your general health. Certain medical problems are linked to significant and lasting depression. Examples include:
*too little thyroid hormone
*some nutritional deficiencies
*some infections, such as mononucleosis
A physical exam and blood tests can often identify the problem.
There is no single “best” treatment for depression.
A combination of medication and talk therapy helps many people feel better. Talk therapy or psychotherapy, can ease depression and prevent future episodes by teaching you more productive ways of thinking and acting. Common and effective forms of talk therapy include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy:
Cognitive therapy helps you change negative patterns of thinking. Behavioral therapy helps you get back to doing the things you used to enjoy.
This method helps you improve how you cope with conflicts in relationships and better deal with social roles.
This technique focuses on how life events, along with past and current relationships, affect your choices and how you feel.
More important than the specific method is finding someone you’re comfortable talking to.
Medications for Depression:
Medications called antidepressants can greatly relieve symptoms of depression. Some people start to feel better within a week or two but it often takes three to six weeks to get full relief.
Antidepressants can have side effects, including:
*loss of sexual
*loss of appetite
There are many different types of antidepressants. It’s usually possible to work with your doctor to try a different drug to reduce or eliminate side effects.
Depression is a serious illness requiring treatment. Don’t let side effects get in the way of feeling better.
Other ways to manage Depression:
Taking good care of yourself can help improve your health and depression.
If you have mild depression, the following steps may greatly improve your mood and sense of well-being. If your depression is moderate or severe, these are still likely to improve your quality of life.
Being physically active every day can improve anyone’s mood, no matter how intense the depression. There’s no set rule for how often or how hard you need to exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Even walking at a good pace can help.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables; chicken, fish and other kinds of lean protein; nuts; legumes (peas and beans) and olive oil may help improve your mood.
Mindfulness is the practice of centering attention on what is happening right now and accepting it without judgement. Meditation-focusing your attention by concentrating on your breathing, a phase or an image is one way to learn mindfulness. A meditation class or CD can help you learn this technique.
Other treatments for Depression:
Therapies that activate the brain with electricity, magnets or implants may help when other treatments don’t.
The oldest, quickest and most effective treatment for the most severe forms of depression is electro-convulsive therapy or shock therapy.
*The person is in a relaxed sleep
*An electrical impulse is applied to the scalp
*This causes a seizure that shows no outward signs
*The doctor follows the brain’s electrical activity
*The seizure restores the brain’s ability to regulate mood and decreases the symptoms of depression
*Depression usually improves gradually over days to weeks
Three newer treatments are sometimes used:
*repetitive intracranial magnetic stimulation
They also ease depression by generating impulses that help specific brain circuits work better. However, these treatments don’t have the proven track record of shock therapy.
How to stick with your treatment plan:
Depression can make it hard to take the necessary steps to feel better.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track.
*Take your medications as directed. Don’t skip pills or change doses without checking with your doctor.
*Report any side effects. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dose or try a different drug.
*Try to stay connected. Joining a club, taking a class, having a meal with an understanding friend, attending religious services or going to a movie, ball game or concert can help lift mood.
*Don’t make big decisions-about moving, changing jobs or personal relationships-until your depression has eased or is under control.
*If you decide to try a “natural” remedy, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it might interact with any other medication you’re taking.
*Friends and family often want to help. Let them.
Depression in a new mother is a serious problem that need attention.
Most women experience mood swings (“baby blues”) after giving birth. These usually last only a week or two.
About 15% of women develop a more serious form time of depression. It’s called postpartum depression and can begin any time within 2-3 months after delivery. Signs of postpartum depression are similar to those of major depression but can also include:
*feeling like you can’t care for your baby or yourself
*worrying a lot about your baby
*having negative feelings or thoughts about harming your baby
*not wanting to be alone with your baby
*not being interested in caring for your baby
It can be hard to admit you’re struggling emotionally at a time when the world expects you to be happy. But post postpartum depression can and should be treated. Ask your doctor or midwife about medications that are generally safe when breastfeeding as well as other way to help improve your mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder:
In some people, the onset of winter can trigger depression.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that seems to be triggered by reduced exposure to daylight. It usually comes on during the fall or winter months and goes away in the spring. Symptoms are similar to those of major depression.
The treatment for seasonal affective disorder is light therapy also known as phototherapy. This involves sitting close to a special light source every day. This light is far more intense than normal indoor light. In order to work, the light must enter through you eyes, not shine on your skin.
Its best to talk with your doctor before trying light therapy. Certain drugs and health conditions can make it more likely that light therapy could damage your eyes.
Depression and Men:
Anger or aches and pains can be signs of depression in men.
For men, depression doesn’t always come in the form of persistent sadness or feeling “down”. It might show up in other ways.
Irritability, loss of sense of humor, anger, verbal abuse of loved ones. A man who seems to need “anger management” counseling may actually be suffering from depression.
Low back pain, headaches, insomnia, sexual problems, stomach and digestive problems. If these problems are caused by depression, their standard treatments may not improve them but depression treatment might.
Increasing intake of alcohol, abuse of drugs, compulsive gambling.
Impulsive, risky behaviors, such as reckless driving or unsafe sex.
Don’t let fear keep you from getting the treatment you need.
People suffering from depression may be embarrassed by their depression and reluctant to seek help. This can lead to more pain, poorer quality of life and in some cases suicide.
Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Acknowledging the pain and talking with a health professional can help you feel better.
Other resources for help with depression include:
National Institute of Mental Health
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Alliance on Mental Illness
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Get more information on depression:
content.accenthealth.com/depression or text Depression to 55155. AccentHealth provides patient education at the point of care. Learn more at http://www.accenthealth.com.
Disclaimer: This information was taken from the AccentHealth pamphlet and I give them full credit for the information. Please call them directly for more information.