Everybody knows about the emotional symptoms of depression. But depression doesn't just affect your mood. Not only can it make you feel alone or hopeless, it can also affect sleep, appetite, and weight. It can also cause physical pain.
Even people who know they are depressed might not connect some of these symptoms with their condition. Since it's so easy to miss some symptoms of depression, here are questions you can ask your doctor. Print them out and take them to your next appointment. Go in prepared -- it's very easy to forget the questions you wanted to ask when you're actually sitting in the doctor's office.
Antidepressants, especially when combined with talk therapy, generally help
people recover from depression. Symptoms begin to improve within weeks for the
majority of people taking antidepressants. And people who take antidepressants
long-term -- up to 36 months -- have a relapse rate of only 18% compared to 40%
for those who do not.
But if they work so well, why do so many people stop taking antidepressants
within a few weeks of starting them? Or skip doses when they start to feel
What kind of depression do I have? Depression can take many forms. Different types respond better to different sorts of treatment.
Can you recommend a therapist who can help ease my symptoms of depression? Finding a therapist is usually a crucial first step in beating your depression.
How might depression affect my appetite and weight? Many people notice physical changes because of their depression. Some lose weight because they've lost their appetite or feel sick. Others gain weight because they might stop exercising or turn to food for comfort.
How could depression affect my sleep? People often associate depression with oversleeping. But depression can also cause insomnia.
Could my depression be causing me physical pain? Studies have shown that depression can increase the feelings of physical pain, including headaches, back pain, and abdominal pain.
Could other health conditions be contributing to my symptoms of depression? Conditions like heart disease, cancer, and thyroid problems can trigger or worsen the symptoms of depression. Some can affect how well your antidepressants work.
Do I need medicine to treat my depression? Medication -- often along with therapy -- can be a highly effective way to treat depression. This can especially be true when symptoms are severe or certain symptoms are present -- such as suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, or a marked inability to feel pleasure.
What are the side effects of this drug? Will it change my personality? Talk over the pros and cons of taking medication. Ask how any side effects might be managed.
Do the symptoms of depression need special treatment? In addition to treating depression, you may need to treat specific symptoms as well. For instance, if your depression is making it impossible to sleep, you may need to treat that directly.
What kind of lifestyle changes will help with my symptoms of depression? Ask your doctor about what you can do to ease symptoms. Getting exercise, eating well, avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs, and following a regular routine might help.
What about alternative treatments? So far, research has not shown that any alternative treatments or supplements can cure depression. However, some may be helpful. So always talk to your doctor before using these treatments.
What should I do in an emergency? You and your doctor should have a plan for a crisis. If you are ever in danger of hurting yourself, you -- and your family -- need to know what steps to take.