Depression Is Very Treatable
My daily routine was shot. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I got up because the dog had to be walked and my wife needed to go to work. The day would go by, and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to get back to normal. I just wanted to be myself again. A friend noticed that something wasn’t right. I talked to him about the time he had been really depressed and had gotten help from his doctor.
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Most adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, talk therapy (psychotherapy), or a combination of both.
If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider.
This could be your primary doctor or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist). Certain medications, and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests. If the doctor can find no medical condition that may be causing the depression, the next step is a psychological evaluation.
Quick Tip: Making an Appointment
If you still need to make an appointment, here are some things you could say during the first call: “I haven’t been myself lately, and I’d like to talk to the provider about it,” or “I think I might have depression, and I’d like some help.”
Talking to Your Doctor
How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. But talking to your doctor isn’t always easy. It takes time and effort on your part as well as your doctor’s.
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
Any symptoms you’ve had,including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
- When did your symptoms start?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Have the symptoms occurred before?
- If the symptoms have occurred before, how were they treated?
- Key personal information,including any major stresses or recent life changes
- All medications, vitamins,or other supplements that you’re taking, including how much and how often
- Questions to askyour health provider
If you don’t have a primary doctor or are not at ease with the one you currently see, now may be the time to find a new doctor. Whether you just moved to a new city, changed insurance providers, or had a bad experience with your doctor or medical staff, it is worthwhile to spend time finding a doctor you can trust.
Tests and Diagnosis
Your doctor or health care provider will examine you and talk to you at the appointment. Your doctor may do a physical exam and ask questions about your health and symptoms. There are no lab tests that can specifically diagnose depression, but your doctor may also order some lab tests to rule out other conditions.
Ask questions if the doctor’s explanations or instructions are unclear, bring up problems even if the doctor doesn’t ask, and let the doctor know if you have concerns about a particular treatment or change in your daily life.
Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or mental health counselor, who should discuss with you any family history of depression or other mental disorder, and get a complete history of your symptoms. The mental health professional may also ask if you are using alcohol or drugs, and if you are thinking about death or suicide.
For more information about mood and related issues, the following resources may be helpful.
Mood Disorders Society of Canada. https://mdsc.ca/about-us/
Anxiety Disorders Association of America. www.adaa.org
The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety. www.canmat.org
Obsessive Compulsive Association. www.ocfoundation.org
The Anxiety Network. www.anxietynetwork.com
Source: National Institute of Mental health, with permission. Please note that any information regarding medications is provided for educational purposes only and may be outdated.
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