Treating Depression


Overview

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.

The first step in seeking treatment is to visit a mental health specialist. Certain medications, and some medical conditions such as viruses or a thyroid condition, can present symptoms of depression. A doctor can rule out other disorders. If no medical condition that may be causing the depression is found, the next step is a psychological evaluation.

The doctor, if he himself is not one or feels can tackle your situation, he may refer you to a mental health professional, who should discuss with your mental disorder and get a complete history of your symptoms. You should discuss when your symptoms started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, and whether they have occurred before. The mental health professional will check if you are using alcohol or drugs, and if you are thinking about death or suicide.

Once diagnosed, treatment may start in several ways. The most common of which are medication and psychotherapy.

Medications

Once the severity of your condition has assessed, treatment involving medicine, psychotherapy and self-management can begin. Any of these treatments, used alone or in combination, may give you the best results.

Antidepressant Medication

Some people experience mild side effects at the start of treatment, but these may go away over time or with adjustments to your medication. Like all medications, however, there may be uncommon, but more serious side effects. Talk to your physician if you find side effects hard to cope with or experience any agitation, worsening of depression, or increase in suicidal thoughts.

Medicines for depression are not usually addictive; however, you should not stop taking them suddenly without consulting your physician. Doing so may cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as flu-like sensations, insomnia, nausea, balance problems and agitation.

Here are some points to know and consider about medications for depression:

  1. Modern medicines for depression are called “antidepressants.” Your regular doctor or a psychiatrist (a medical doctor trained in helping people with depression) can prescribe them for you.
  2. Note that anti-depressant drugs are controversial for various reasons, including studies showing that, in some cases, herbal cures such as St. John’s Wort or even placebo sugar pills work just as well.
  3. These medicines sometimes cause unwanted “side effects.” You may feel tired, have blurred vision, or feel sick to your stomach, etc. Tell the doctor if you have these or any other side effects. Ascertain that he monitors your progress and the drug’s impact on your body with strict regularity, including obtaining periodic laboratory measurements of the amount of drugs, which have accumulated in your body (titre), if the drug warrants such precaution.
  4. Antidepressants may take a few weeks to work. Be sure to tell the doctor how you are feeling. If you are not feeling better, you may need to try different medicines to find out what works best for you.
  5. You may wish to see practitioners of alternative medicine for treatment but must exercise the best judgment in deciding whom to see based on the practitioner’s established credentials.

FDA WARNING ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS

Note: The following information has been culled from the website of the US Food and Drug Administration. You can access this site at:

http://www.fda.gov

Psychotherapy

The simplest form of this treatment modality, sometimes called ‘Talk Therapy” involves talking to someone such as a psychologist, social worker, or counselor. It helps you learn to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act. Ask your doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified health provider whom you should go to for “Talk Therapy”.

NOTE: The following material is culled from the National Mental Health Institute website.

The more formal types of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) can be as effective as antidepressants. Many psychologists and some other mental health professionals provide these types of therapy. The focus of psychotherapy may be on your thoughts and beliefs or on your relationships. It may also help you look at your behavior, how it’s affecting you, and what you can do differently. Sessions are usually taken individually or in a group about once or twice a week for 8 to 12 weeks.

Ask your physician to recommend a therapist or a program for you.

More information on psychotherapy is available on the NIMH website at:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml

Self-Management: Taking an Active Role in your Treatment

There are many things that you can do to help yourself get through your depression and reduce the risk of a relapse. Self-management does not mean dealing with your illness alone. It means being an active partner with your physician or other health care provider, communicating honestly and effectively, and being well informed on treatment options. Most importantly, it means following through on the treatment or action plan that you and your physician decide upon – and that usually includes behavioral and lifestyle changes

Depression is often under-diagnosed and may present with non-specific physical symptoms. Of people who become depressed, about half will develop either a chronic or relapsing course, with each new episode tending to occur sooner, last longer, and become more severe and difficult to treat. Tailor goals to the individual, depending on comorbidities, chronicity, and treatment resistance.

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

  • Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
  • Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ball- game, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
  • Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of ” your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
  • Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.

Continue to educate yourself about depression.

Traditional or Alternative Healing Methods

NGF is still compiling data on the efficacy of these said methods and will update this portion once we have completed our research. Please bear with us.

Herbal Remedies

NGF is still compiling data on the efficacy of these said methods and will update this portion once we have completed our research. Please bear with us.


What is Depression?

In the simplest way possible, Depression (depressive disorder) may be defined as an illness that involves the body, mind, mood and thoughts – some saying it really affects the spirit and the soul, as well.

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What Causes Depression?

The cause of depression is not fully known. A number of factors may be involved, such as chemical imbalances in the brain or family history. Depression isn’t caused by personal weakness, lack of willpower, or a ‘bad attitude.’

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Signs and Symptoms

People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.

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