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Depression: No, I can't just "snap out of it"

September through December marks RNovations' spotlight on mental health. Depression is today's mental health topic. We've all had depressed moments- situations come up that tend to make you feel that way, however, once these feelings start to affect our daily functioning, herein lies the problem. Clinical depression in all its forms can make it so that we can't function in a manner that allows us to care for ourselves or our family. We can also still have depression but still be "functional"- meaning that we carry out those things we need to in order to keep our lives moving forward. So someone with a functional depression would still be making it to work as expected, paying bills, caring for children, etc. If you have found yourself getting frustrated with a loved one or even yourself for going through typical symptoms of depression- please, take a step back, and understand that it's not something the individual has control over. What is needed from friends and family is support- whatever type of support you are able to offer.

Let's take a closer look at what depression is: Depression is NOT sadness, grief/bereavement (while it is also true that a loss can trigger clinical depression). There are many ways in which a person can be at higher risk for depression including: an imbalance of brain chemicals, a family history, environmental factors (such as poverty, violence and neglect), as well as personality traits (like pessimism or low self-esteem) can all predispose a person to depression. It is important to know that depression is very common. An estimated 1 in 6 people (16.6% of people) will experience depression at some time in their life. For more information from the American Psychiatric Association, click here.

Some symptoms of depression can include: loss of interest in once enjoyed activities; loss of appetite; Sleep disturbances- insomnia and oversleeping both; pain with no medical cause; difficulty concentrating or remembering. These are just some of the things you may have noticed (or not) in a loved one with depression. Not all people who have depression show all the signs and it's important to know that they may have what is called an "atypical presentation", where none of the symptoms that are typical or expected are seen. The National Institute of Mental Health is an excellent resource if you're wanting to educate yourself about depression and other mental health topics. Just being present without judgement can help depressed folks make it through the day- it's a day at a time thing. You want to get them help, what are the options?

How is depression treated? There are multiple treatment methods for depression and they have been proven to be effective for most individuals. Medications- There are multiple types of antidepressant medications. It may take a little trial and error to find the right medication and the right dose, but these medications are largely effective. It is important to know that while the individual may feel some improvement in the first few weeks, it often takes two to three months for the full effect of the medication to be felt. Talk Therapy- The combination of talking with someone and medications have been noted to be extremely effective. Not only do the medications help with chemical imbalances, but the talking helps with processing emotions and events as well as learning stress management techniques and positive self talk. ECT (Electroconvulsant Therapy): While this may sound barbaric, this treatment modality has come miles and miles since its emergence. The patient is made comfortable with a combination of medications before the treatment is administered. It is however, usually the last line of treatments for people with depression that has not responded to other treatments. Information on treatments for depression can be found on the National Institute of Mental Health and American Psychiatric Association websites.

Resources: WebMD is a resource we use very sparingly here at RNovations- it really helps to have a high level of health literacy when using it. We do like this resource page however, as it directs you to several academic/valid sources for depression. So without further ado, click here for the list of web resources from WebMD.

How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions such as diabetes. There we assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!

*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.

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