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What's Stopping You From Seeing a Doctor About Depression?

Common reasons people avoid treatment and expert advice on how to get past them.

Major Depression: Reasons Why People Avoid Treatment continued...

“Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on the here and now -- helping you look at your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to try to improve your quality of life and reduce your depression,” she says. “We know that it may work as well as medications in the short term, but may also last longer.”

Expert advice: See a therapist (psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker) as well as your regular doctor. If you do need a medication, it most likely won’t be for life. Learn all you can and don’t rely on stories you have heard from others who have taken antidepressants, Muller says. Every person reacts a little differently to them.

I don't feel sad all the time. Why do I need treatment for depression? You don’t need to feel sad or cry all day to be clinically depressed. Often people with depression see their primary care doctors for problems such as muscle pain, sleeping problems, or fatigue, not knowing those are signs of depression, Nelson says. Sometimes these symptoms accompany sadness; other times they don’t.

“There is also so-called ‘masked depression’ -- when, for whatever reason, people don’t feel in touch with a sense of sadness or abnormal mood,” he says. “They may be more likely to report something like apathy, blunted mood, or not feeling like themselves.”

In these cases, a doctor may diagnose depression based on other symptoms, particularly decreased interest in or loss of pleasure from favorite activities.

Expert advice: If you are having symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, or loss of interest in activities you love, don’t rule out depression as a cause. See your doctor.

I’m embarrassed to talk to my doctor about it. “The shame of having a mental health problem keeps folks from seeking help or even talking about suffering from depression,” says Bob Livingstone, author of The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise. But depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical condition, much like diabetes or high cholesterol, which requires treatment.

It is also a very common condition. Depressive disorders affect nearly 19 million people in the U.S. every year -- regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexuality, income, or education. So there’s a good chance your doctor won’t hear anything from you that she hasn’t heard many times before.

Expert advice: Remember that virtually everyone experiences depression at some point, and your doctor will not repeat anything that you share during an office visit. Still, if speaking to your own doctor is embarrassing, find out if your health insurance has someone you can speak with first by phone. If you don’t have insurance coverage for mental health, check out mental health services in your community.

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