Depression is a serious mental health illness that affects over 17 million people age 18 and older in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression causes you to lose interest in activities you once enjoyed and causes an overall feeling of sadness. Luckily, depression is treatable.
What Is Depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder causing constant sadness. People with depression often express it as the feeling of a dark cloud looming over them, with no end in sight. Symptoms for depression can vary in children, young adults, and adults and include:
- Persistent sadness.
- Sense of hopelessness.
- Lack of interest in activities.
- Insomnia or excessive oversleeping.
- Lack of self-esteem.
- Overeating or undereating.
- Difficulty focusing.
- Loss of energy.
- Increased fatigue.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Difficulty with making decisions.
- Suicidal thoughts.
These feelings of worthlessness and sadness often have no reason at all, yet are pervasive. Someone who experiences any or all of these symptoms daily for two weeks or more is likely to be diagnosed with depression. Some people may think that they need to power through the depression instead of seeking treatment. While most forms of depression are highly treatable, individuals often require the assistance of a professional. Depression rarely goes away on its own and can affect your physical and mental health if left untreated.
If you or a loved one experiences one or more of the symptoms listed above, it’s imperative to schedule an appointment with a professional at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights to determine if treatment is necessary.
How Is Depression Assessed and Treated?
A diagnosis of depression often starts with a professional performing a depression assessment or quiz that includes questions such as:
- Is there a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness in your family?
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?
- Have you felt depressed, worthless, or hopeless almost every day for the past two weeks or more?
A health care professional will analyze your results to determine whether or not you have depression. Once diagnosed, your health care professional can help you treat it. Depression, much like other mental health disorders, doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all treatment. You will need to work with your doctor individually to devise a treatment plan for your unique situation. You may also need to try more than one type of treatment to get the results you desire. A combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy may be included in your comprehensive treatment plan.
What Are the Options for Treating Depression?
Treating depression is unique to the individual and may require one or more of the following options.
Simple yet powerful changes in your lifestyle can be a part of your treatment plan for depression. Lifestyle changes may even end up being all you need to help lift the depression and keep it from coming back. Lifestyle changes that are used to prevent depression include:
- Exercise. Regular exercise can be as effective as medication in the treatment of depression. It raises serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. It also triggers the growth of new connections and cells. Thirty to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise regularly is recommended for maximum results. Something as simple as going for a daily walk can make a huge difference.
- Nutrition. Your mental and physical health requires a nutritional and balanced diet to keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. Complex carbohydrates are your best choice to get you going without the sugar crash from sugary foods.
- Sleep. Sleep affects your mood, and depression symptoms can be worse when you don’t get enough sleep. Lack of good sleep causes an increase in moodiness, fatigue, sadness, and irritability. Seven to nine hours is a great place to aim when it comes to sleep each night.
- Social support. Create a strong social network to reduce isolation, a risk factor for depression. Stay in contact with family and friends. You can also join a group, take a class, or volunteer to get yourself out and around others.
- Reduce stress. Manage and reduce the stress in your life by looking at work overload, unsupportive relationships, and responsibilities to minimize their impact.
Talking to a therapist can be an effective treatment. It also provides you with insight and skills to prevent depression from returning. Therapists to utilize for the treatment of depression include interpersonal, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral. Many therapists use a blended approach. Therapy can help you learn how to set healthy boundaries, handle life’s problems, and understand the patterns in your relationships. Therapy options include group and individual, or a combination of the two.
Medication is often the most advertised treatment for depression, used to treat the chemical imbalance in the brain. Just because it’s the most talked-about treatment doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most effective. Depression is more than just a chemical imbalance, so additional treatments may be required for the medication to work best. Antidepressants also often work to relieve symptoms without fixing the underlying problem. You should ask about any side effects or safety concerns to learn all the facts and make an informed decision.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy
If self-care, therapy, and medication aren’t enough to treat your depression, you may want to consider TMS. TMS is a non-invasive treatment that directs recurring magnetic energy pulses to the mood regions of the brain. These impulses pass through the skull and stimulate the brain cells to ease symptoms painlessly. TMS is often used to treat major depression and can get your drive and energy back enough to start therapy or make lifestyle changes to preserve your recovery.
Several alternative or complementary treatments can also help, including vitamins, supplements, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques.
The key to treating depression is finding what works for you and then sticking to it. If you or someone you love have depression and would like to seek treatment, contact us at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights to set up a neuropsychological assessment and treatment plan. You don’t have to go through life feeling sad and hopeless; call us at 847-584-1671 to set up an appointment today.