How to Find Help Treating a Depressive Disorder
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 14.8 million Americans suffer from major depressive disorder, and another 1.5 percent of the population struggle with chronic, mild depression called dysthymic disorder. Depression is a mental illness that can have a profound effect on sufferers, often leading to emotional, psychological and physiological problems and even self-harm.
Most people who are stricken with depression respond favorably to treatment. If you or someone you know is wondering how to find help treating a depressive disorder, call our confidential helpline at . Our knowledgeable representatives can provide information about treatment centers that assist people in overcoming this disease.
In general, depression is a normal reaction to the stressors of life. It’s natural to feel down when something bad happens such as a job loss. Eventually, though, these feelings pass. Depression becomes a problem when those feelings persist for long periods of time, reoccurs, interferes with daily life, leads to other physical or psychological issues, or a combination of the above.
It’s important to understand that the word “depression” is an umbrella term that encompasses several different forms of this disease. Here is a basic description of each type:
- Major depression (also called major depressive disorder): People may be diagnosed as having this condition if they present at least five symptoms (listed below) for a period of two weeks or more. This condition is disabling because it interferes with a person’s ability to eat, sleep, work or participate in life. This may lead some people to feel as though there is no point to living and attempt suicide.
- Dysthymia disorder: Though less severe than major depression, dysthymia is a chronic condition a person can have for years at a time. The major symptoms of this condition include low energy, overeating or not eating at all, oversleeping or insomnia, irritability, and inability to experience pleasure in activities.
- Psychotic depression: A person who experiences psychosis in addition to depression is likely to be diagnosed with this condition. The psychosis may come in the form of auditory or visual hallucinations, the development of false beliefs or a complete break with reality.
- Postpartum depression: This is depression that occurs to women following childbirth. It’s often attributed to the rapid physical and hormonal changes that occur after childbirth as well as feelings of overwhelm many new moms have about the responsibilities involved with caring for a brand-new human. According to the National Institute of Health, up to 15 percent of women experience this condition after having babies.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): As the name suggests, this condition affects people during the winter months when there isn’t as much natural sunlight. People with this condition usually feel their symptoms pass in the spring and summer seasons but begin again in the late fall and winter.
How to Diagnose Depression
Unfortunately, many depressed people never seek professional help. Several reasons are often blamed for this, but the one that may have the most impact is that there is a stigma attached to mental illness. Additionally, people may downplay their conditions or feel they can simply snap out of their depressive state if given enough time. Often, it is up to friends and family members to recognize the symptoms of depression and encourage the person to seek treatment as soon as possible. Here are some symptoms to can look out for:
- Feeling helpless and hopeless or having a general pessimistic attitude towards life
- No interest in participating in activities
- Weight gain due to overeating or weight loss due to not eating
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Agitation, restlessness and irritability
- Feelings of low self-worth, guilt or self-loathing
- Low energy and fatigue
- Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions
- Behaving recklessly
- Self-medicating through substance or alcohol abuse
- Headaches, body aches and gastrointestinal issues that don’t respond to treatment
How to Recognize a Depressive Episode
It’s not always easy to recognize when depression is a problem, particularly if a person has experienced trauma. If you or someone you know answers “yes” to several of the following questions, then depression may be the root cause:
- Unable to sleep or sleep too much
- Unable to eat or stop eating
- Constantly feeling helpless or hopeless
- Having negative thoughts constantly surface despite best efforts
- Not able to concentrate, with previously easy tasks being now difficult to do
- Experiencing increased irritability, aggression or short-temperedness
- Consuming alcohol or other substances to numb feelings
- Having suicidal thoughts (seek immediate assistance)
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With Depression
The first thing you can do is talk to the person. It can be difficult discussing a mental health disorder with someone you love. The main thing to keep in mind is to be compassionate. Encourage the person to talk about how they are feeling without judging what is said.
Encourage the person to get a checkup from the family physician. While an individual may resist the idea of talking to a mental health professional about depression, the person may regard the family doctor as a less threatening option. A general practitioner can diagnose depression and prescribe treatment, including making a referral to a licensed therapist or psychologist. Sometimes, having a professional make the suggestion is the key to getting someone to seek help.
Another thing you can do is persuade the person to make positive lifestyle changes that can alleviate depression. Exercising, eating more healthily, abandoning alcohol or drugs, and managing stress can go a long way towards mitigating symptoms of depression. Keep an eye on the symptoms that are present. If things worsen or the person begins to have thoughts of suicide, take the individual to a doctor immediately or dial 911.
Talking to Someone With Severe Depression
When talking to someone with severe depression, it’s important to remember that the person has a mental illness. Avoid using language that may be perceived as blaming the person, minimizing the situation or dismissing the circumstances. For example, instead of telling the person to “just snap out of it,” or stating “It’s all in your head,” ask them if there is anything you can do to help them. Be compassionate, understanding and encouraging.
Adolescents and Teens
Depression among adolescents and teens is a lot more common than most people think. Often, a child’s low mood is attributed to hormonal changes or stress. Additionally, kids may not be able to adequately express how they are feeling to the adults in their lives, particularly if they are very young.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Watch for the signs of depression, and if they manifest, talk to the child about your concerns. Take the child to see a medical professional if the symptoms don’t improve.
Learning to Cope With Depression
There are several things you can do to minimize the effect depression has on you and your life. Have trusted people in your life with whom you can share what you are feeling and who can provide you with the support you need to get through this difficult time. Another option is to join a support group. Knowing that other people are out there struggling with the same condition can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. For help finding a group in your area, call our hotline at .
Lastly, continue to participate in social activities even when you don’t feel like doing so. People who are depressed often try to isolate themselves, which can worsen the condition. Avoid this vicious cycle by making an effort to be around people who care about you and make you feel good.
How to Treat Depression
The first line of treatment for depression is typically medication. Changes in brain chemistry may be responsible for the condition, and medication can help correct this issue. A doctor can recommend the right medication for your particular situation. Remember, though, that it does take time to work, so don’t give up if you don’t see improvement within the first week or two.
Other things you can do to treat depression include exercising, controlling blood sugar levels and eating a healthier diet. These things can support your recovery effort and help prevent relapses.
Deciding Between Depressive Disorder Solutions
While a doctor will recommend various treatment options, at the end of the day, you must choose the best one for you. It can, however, be challenging deciding between depressive disorder solutions, especially if you’ve never suffered from the condition before.
Think about the outcome you want to achieve, and factor in your personal preferences. For instance, you may want to get rid of the depression but don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs. Talk to your healthcare provider about options that don’t involve medication, such as over-the-counter supplements and lifestyle changes.
Where to Find Depression Treatment for a Friend or Family Member
If the depressed person in your life is a friend or family member, you may want to help the person by finding depression treatment in the area. A good way to go about this is to call our confidential hotline at . We have access to thousands of treatment centers and can narrow down your search to the ones that offer the services and amenities you are looking for. Depression is a serious disease, so don’t wait. Call today.