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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Mental and Behavioural Disorders How to Deal with Depression

How to Deal with Depression

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When doctors talk about depression, they mean the medical illness called major depression. Someone with major depression has symptoms like those listed in the box below nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer.No interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy, Feeling sad or empty, Crying easily or crying for no reason, Feeling slowed down or feeling restless and unable to sit still, Feeling worthless or guilty. Depression seems to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it hard for the cells to communicate with one another. Depression also seems to be genetic (to run in families).

 

What is depression?

When doctors talk about depression, they mean the medical illness called major depression. Someone with major depression has symptoms like those listed in the box below nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer.

Symptoms of depression

  • No interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Crying easily or crying for no reason
  • Feeling slowed down or feeling restless and unable to sit still
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Thoughts about death or suicide
  • Trouble thinking, recalling things or focusing on what you're doing
  • Trouble making everyday decisions
  • Problems sleeping, especially in the early morning, or wanting to sleep all of the time
  • Feeling tired all of the time

What causes depression?

Depression seems to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes it hard for the cells to communicate with one another. Depression also seems to be genetic (to run in families).

Depression can be linked to events in your life, such as the death of someone you love, a divorce or job loss. Taking certain medicines, abusing drugs or alcohol, or having other illnesses can also lead to depression. Depression isn't caused by personal weakness, laziness or lack of willpower.

 

How is depression treated?

Depression can be treated with medicines, or a special type of counseling called psychotherapy, or with both.

What about medicines?

Many medicines can be used to treat depression. These medicines are called antidepressants and they work very well. They correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.

Antidepressants work differently for different people. They also have different side effects. So, even if one medicine bothers you or doesn't work for you, another may help. You may notice improvement as soon as 1 week after you start taking the medicine. But you probably won't see the full effects for about 6 to 8 weeks. You may have side effects at first but they tend to lessen after a couple of weeks.

What is psychotherapy?

In psychotherapy, you talk with your family doctor, a psychiatrist or a therapist about things that are going on in your life. 

Getting through depression

  • Pace yourself. Don't expect to do everything you normally can. Set a realistic schedule.
  • Don't believe all of your negative thinking, such as blaming yourself or expecting to fail. This thinking is part of depression. These thoughts will go away as your depression lifts.
  • Get involved in activities that make you feel good or feel like you've achieved something.
  • Avoid making big life decisions when you're depressed. If you must make a big decision, ask someone you trust to help you.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Both make depression worse. Both can cause dangerous side effects with your antidepressants.
  • Physical activity seems to cause a chemical reaction in the body that may improve your mood. Exercising 4 to 6 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time is a good goal. But even less activity can be helpful.
  • Try not to get discouraged. It will take time for your depression to lift fully.