Living With Depression
Depression is a common problem that touches the lives of many people. Some seek medical help; some opt for the alternative forms of treatment for their depression. When it comes to dealing with depression, there are many things such as handling the side effects, choosing the right health care or dealing with recurrence that need to be taken care of.
Here are some of the different ways to help you manage your depression.
Herbs and Supplements
Apart from medications herbs and supplements can also be used to manage depression. St. John’s wort and SAMe are two names that are synonymous with herbal treatment for the condition.
St. John’s Wort - Available at food stores, drugstores and online, it’s the most popular herbal treatment for depression. It works by raising the levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which are necessary for lifting the mood and ensuring a positive outlook in an individual. The herb is, however, effective only for mild to moderate depression. Therefore, it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for medications if you have severe depression. Side effects of St. John’s wort include dizziness, dry mouth, confusion, sensitivity to sunlight, constipation and other gastrointestinal discomforts. The supplement can also interfere with the working of some other drugs such as anti-clotting, AIDS and birth control pills.
SAMe- S-adenosyl-L-methionine, also known as SAMe (pronounced as Sammy), is another supplement used for treating depression. It is made from an amino acid found in the body. Scientific studies have also found that the supplement increases the effectiveness of Selective Serotonin Reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), for those who do not benefit much from SSRIs alone. SAMe has fewer side effects such as headaches, insomnia, jitteriness and loose stools even diarrhea. However, individuals with bipolar disorder should avoid taking it since there are cases of people with bipolar disorder who have become manic after taking it.
Studies have found that regular exercise can improve the mood in people with mild to moderate depression. It can also play a supporting role in treating severe depression; some also suggest that exercise can be an acceptable substitute for medications and therapy.
Exercise enhances the actions of endorphins in the body, which in turn increases natural immunity, reduces the perception of pain and can also improve mood. It is also thought to stimulate the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which can directly improve mood and prevent depression. Therefore, half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise every day or whenever you can should suffice.
This form of meditation teaches you on how to focus on something that’s happening in the present and accepting it without any judgment. Recently, cognitive behavioral therapists have turned to mindfulness techniques to treat mood problems and depression.
The goal of practicing mindfulness meditation is to recognize and accept your feelings and thoughts and bend them into positive thoughts. It also helps you appreciate the simple experiences that you come across each day. If you want to give it a try, you can talk to your therapist on ways to use it.
Overcoming the Stigma
A lot of people who are suffering from depression often feel ashamed about their condition and are reluctant to seek treatment or interact with others. This leaves them all alone and on a self-destructive path leading to more problems and in some cases suicide attempts.
The problem lies in the fact our society has long considered mental illness a stigma. The situation has improved today as more and more people are becoming aware that the condition is treatable and not something to be afraid of. Like any other physical illness there are ways to treat mental illness and give you a new and healthy life.
Therefore, never hesitate to approach a doctor or therapist with your problems. If you keep them suppressed, it leads you to more problems and worse consequences.
Taking Care of Health Care
Most of the private insurers, Medicare and managed care plans provide some coverage for mental health problems. However, the plan might not cover the entire treatment period and other necessary things you might need during the treatment. Therefore, try to get information on different providers and opt for the one that works out best for you.
Sticking With Treatment
In many instances physical exercise and herbal medications may not be sufficient in treating Depression. As much as beginning treatment for depression is needed, it is the continuation of the treatment that’s more important. A lot of people initially go for treatment but discontinue it within a few days or months thinking they’re not going to gain anything out of it. It’s important that you continue with your treatment and if necessary take the help of your friends or family members for support during therapy sessions. Ensure that you take your medications, and if you feel the treatment isn’t helping you in any ways, talk about it with your doctor or someone who is close to you, and you can also try changing the therapist if need be.
Managing Side Effects
Side effects are common with most of the depression medications and it’s difficult to predict who will experience what sort of side effects. Therefore, stay aware of any changes in your body and report it to the doctor immediately if you notice something uncommon. Here are a few things you can try to deal with the common side effects:
- Drink a lot of water, chew sugarless gum and brush your teeth frequently for managing dry mouth.
- To deal with constipation eat whole grains, bran cereal, prunes, fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water.
- Rise slowly from a chair or bed to avoid a sudden feeling of dizziness. Also drink plenty of fluids.
- Take the medication after a meal to avoid nausea.
If there are any bothersome side effects, talk to your doctor about it without delay.
When depression isn’t treated, there’s a high likelihood it will recur. The subsequent episodes of depression become more intense over time. Therefore, it’s very important to begin the treatment as early as possible. There are a few things you can do to avoid recurrences such as:
- Aggressive treatment - It involves switching to a different antidepressant if the first one isn’t effective or combining two different antidepressants with different mechanisms of action. It could also involve adding a second drug and combining therapy with medication for more results.
- Sticking to the medication - To prevent a relapse, continue taking your medications even after you feel a little better.
- Getting help - Do not hesitate in taking help from your friends, family or your doctor. It might seem difficult but having someone by your side during the course of the treatment is the best.