When you're depressed, everything can seem difficult -- getting out of bed, going to work, even talking with your doctor or psychiatrist. You may not be sure how depression treatment -- or anything -- can possibly make you feel better. Can talking about how you're feeling really help? And if you take medication, will it make a difference?
"There is no question that psychotherapy and medications work for depression and anxiety," says George Papakostas, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston. But for treatment to work effectively, doctors and patients need to communicate openly, he says. If you hide your symptoms or don't take your medication as directed, it makes it harder for your doctor to help you.
Researchers are becoming increasingly aware that depression runs in families -- sometimes across multiple generations. If Lynne Boschee were to draw her family tree of depression, for instance, it would branch across three generations to include her father and her brother and his two teen-aged children. On one limb would be Boschee herself, who had postpartum depression. Her 4-year-old son, Jack, doesn’t have the illness, but she worries that his excessive fears and panic attacks spell an anxiety...
Are you being as honest and open as you can be? If not, why not? Learn some of the barriers to open communication -- and what you can do to overcome them.
It can be hard to admit you have depression at all -- let alone talk about it. Many people still feel a stigma about seeking help. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), only about 51% of people in the U.S. with major depression receive treatment.
Part of the problem, says Rajita Sinha, PhD, a professor in the department of psychiatry at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., is that there's a knowledge gap. "I don't think people realize that there's help out there for the kinds of things they're feeling," says Sinha. "You've got people who think, 'Oh no … I get out of bed and I'm not that bad.' So if you manage to struggle out of bed, and you still go to work but you really can't concentrate and you have to take days off -- that's the working miserable," Sinha tells WebMD.
It can also be difficult to realize that you can't handle your feelings on your own. "People can chalk it off to, 'Oh well I should cope with it better,' or 'I'll just figure something out,' and ignore it," says Sinha. "It doesn't help to ignore it at all. In fact it just makes things worse. It makes the symptoms worse."