Overcoming Depression

Overcoming Depression

What is depression?

Depression is a treatable medical illness that can cause you to think, act or feel negatively.  Depression can be caused by changes in a person’s brain chemistry as well as grief and loss, fluctuation in hormones, or other medical conditions.

The symptoms of depression can make it challenging for a person to live a fulfilling life.  A person with depression may have mild or severe symptoms.  A major depressive episode can leave a person feeling:

  • Isolated: Depression often makes a person feel like others can’t relate or understand what he or she is going through.
  • Negative: Depression can perpetuate and increase negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Hopeless: It is challenging for a person suffering from depression to think positively. This often creates feelings of despair.
  • Sad and anxious: Feelings of melancholy and anxiety are typical with depression. A person may have sudden bouts of grief or anxiousness that make regular day to day activities challenging or impossible.
  • Exhausted: Insomnia and an inability to focus are common symptoms of depression. A lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating can leave a person feeling mentally and physically exhausted.
  • Overwhelmed: With all of the other symptoms of depression, it is understandable that it can also create a strong feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Suicidal: A major depressive episode may include such intense feelings of despair and negativity that the sufferer contemplates thoughts of suicide.

Depression is a treatable medical condition that can take a tremendous toll on an individual.  Because of the nature of the symptoms of depression it can wreak havoc on a person’s personal relationships with loved ones, job performance and a person’s overall sense of self-worth.  A skilled medical professional can help you tackle depression head on.  The first step is to meet with an experienced mental health professional and obtain an accurate diagnosis.  Once you have been diagnosed your healthcare professional may recommend one, or all of the following strategies to overcome depression.

  1. A Complete Physical Exam
    Your depressive disorder may be directly related to an undiagnosed medical issue.  The first step in treating depression is to eliminate any unidentified illness or issue that could be the root cause.  This exam may include extensive questionnaires as well as blood and lab work.  This step will help identify any possible conditions that could be causing your depression.
  2. Medication
    There is a wide range of antidepressants available to help you overcome depression.  It is important that you carefully discuss any medications to treat depressive disorder with your healthcare professional.  Many of these medications have side effects and can negatively react with other medications, so it is important that you disclose all medications you are currently taking including over the counter items and supplements.  The most commonly prescribed
    medications for depression include: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), trycyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants such as Welbutrin and Trintellex (Read More).  These medications may be used in conjunction with others as your healthcare professional best sees fit.  For instance, a mood stabilizer or anti-anxiety medication may also be used to help manage your depressive disorder and its symptoms.
  3. Psychotherapy
    Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy and it can be an integral part of your treatment.  Psychotherapy is characterized by its collaborative nature between the therapist and patient.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can be utilized in overcoming depression.  Talk therapy can be scary at first as it requires the patient to talk about those things that make him or her uncomfortable and anxious, but over time can successfully produce positive results.  It includes identifying negative ways of thinking and then establishing a new skillset that allows the patient to redirect those thoughts.  It is also helpful in addressing other symptoms of depression such as anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.  Psychotherapy may be used in conjunction with medication to treat severe depression disorder.
  4. Self-care
    Another important part of treatment is self-care.  Taking care of yourself can come in many different forms.  It is critically important that you institute and maintain patterns of positive self-care.  For instance, eliminating stress when you are able is an important part of taking care of yourself.  You will need to work to identify sources of stress and implement coping mechanisms.  An example of this may be identifying stress in the workplace and then giving yourself a 5-minute brisk walk around the building to decompress.  Yoga, meditation, exercise, and more are all possible mechanisms to help you manage stress.Support systems are another important part of self-care.  Depression often starts an unhealthy cycle of isolation and distancing from friends and family.  Establishing a strong support system and forcing yourself to interact with this system can go a long way to combatting symptoms of depression.  There are many support groups that are available and your healthcare professional may be able to help you find these types of resources.Proper diet and nutrition are also important.  Too often, people try to self-medicate with unhealthy habits such as overeating, not eating at all, drugs or alcohol.  It is important to treat your physical health as well as your mental health with proper nutrition and exercise.
  5. Commit to your treatment plan. While you may experience challenges during treatment it is important that you remain committed to your treatment plan.  This is important for a number of reasons.  It can be dangerous for you to stop taking your medication abruptly.  It may also take some time and adjustments for your treatment plan to be effective.  Make overcoming your depression a priority and stick with it.

A depressive disorder can leave you feeling alone and helpless.  There are professional healthcare specialists and resources available to help you overcome depression and take your life back.

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