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Depression Health Center

Coming to Terms With Depression

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Depression Relief: Finding the Right Treatment continued...

Treatment should be tailored toward the type of depression you have. For example, bipolar disorder is an illness characterized by rapid swings of mood from extreme highs (mania) to devastating lows (depression). It can be difficult to tell bipolar disorder from major depression when the person is in the depressed phase of the illness, but treating it with antidepressants alone may cause rapid and dangerous changes in mood. So getting an accurate diagnosis of your depression is important to treating it effectively.

You and your mental health provider should decide together on the best treatment plan for you. You’ll want to consider the severity of your depression and your health plan coverage, as well as your needs and preferences.

Getting Treatment for Other Conditions

Depression often occurs in conjunction with other illnesses. These include:

  • Anxiety disorders. Posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder can affect depression.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse. “Substance abuse is a very common problem in people with depression,” says Brendel, who often works with patients with drug and alcohol problems as associate medical director for the Pavilion at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. “Abstinence or sobriety is critical for successful treatment.”
  • Medical conditions. Thyroid disease and other medical issues can cause symptoms of depression. Plus, people who have a serious illness such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, or Parkinson’s disease often have more severe symptoms of depression than others. Studies show that treating depression can help improve recovery from medical illness.

Talk with your doctor or mental health care provider to determine whether you have other health problems that should be addressed along with depression.

Getting Support From Family and Friends

Depression often causes people to isolate themselves. You may not feel up to social interaction or ashamed to be struggling with a mental disorder. But as with any other illness, you’ll need help to overcome it. “Support is essential for people with depression,” Allen says. “It can be impossible to recover on your own.”

Start by telling trusted friends and loved ones that you are suffering from depression. It’s important to have people there for encouragement and to help you see small improvements in your mood or energy level that you may not notice. And if depression-related fatigue makes it difficult to keep up with tasks such as grocery shopping or cleaning, they can step in to help.

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