Editor’s Note: Ginger Richard is a Nurse Practitioner for Woodlawn Hospital at the Shafer Medical Clinic. She is accepting new patients and you can schedule an appointment with her at 574-223-9525.
Depression is a common emotion that, at one time or another, we have all felt. Sometimes the stigma of admitting one's concerns or feelings keeps us from speaking up. Rest assured that depression is the most common mood disorder causing disability in the United States and throughout the world. When depression is left untreated, an individual is at risk of developing other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, thyroid disease, and diabetes. Depression is characterized by persistent feelings of despair and sadness, and it can lead to a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities as well as a loss of interest in relationships.
The following are some signs and symptoms of depression:
• Feeling sad or anxious frequently or all of the time
• Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
• feeling irritable, easily frustrated, or restless
• Having difficulty falling or staying asleep?
• Waking up too early or sleeping too much
• Eating more or less than usual, or having no appetite
• Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
• Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions • feeling tired, even after sleeping well.
• Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
When any of these symptoms last over a period of time, one needs to seek help from a medical provider as they can interfere with one’s quality of life. Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including a life stressor, trauma, the death of a loved one, suffering relatives, or financial stress. While no one person handles depression alike, there are different therapies to help cope with it. The first step is to seek help in dealing with the issue at hand. Therapy or counseling can often help sort through the thoughts and feelings one is experiencing in their life. Counseling helps with behavioral change and finding solutions to the issues at hand.
To help improve coping skills and mood, antidepressants and other medications can be started. There are many different drug classes available for your provider to try in treatment. While taking these medications, it’s important for the patient to know they may not feel the benefit in a few days and that it takes up to four weeks for the full effects.
The most important thing is to realize you are not alone, and resources are available to help. Contact your primary care provider, as they can perform a depression screening to determine if you fit the diagnosis of depression.