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Depression – When to Seek Help

Some level of depression is perfectly normal and does not require treatment

Sad and Depressed GirlWe all feel a little down or a little “blue” from time to time. We all have life events that will make us feel very sad as well, such as the loss of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, financial difficulties, etc.

In most cases, however, these down periods are temporary. At what point, however, should you seek help for your depression? While people feel depression in different ways, and to different extents, there are specific warning signs that one should look for when determining whether or not they actually need treatment or not.

First, if your depression has lasted for more than a period of two weeks, you most likely need to seek treatment. Make an appointment with your medical doctor for a checkup, and discuss your feelings with him. He will most likely perform a physical exam to determine if there is a physical cause for those feelings, and he will also ask about your life events and current stressors.

Other than seeking help if the sadness lasts for more than two weeks, another sign that help is needed — immediately — is if you are having suicidal thoughts, or if you have already attempted suicide.
Do not wait to seek treatment. Contact your doctor, or call a suicide hotline for immediate help!

Feeling HopelessEven if depression is temporary, all of the other symptoms of depression are normal — except for the two discussed above. You may have a change in sleeping and eating patterns, you may feel like everything is hopeless. You may have the fatigue and the aches and the pains.

But again, if those symptoms do not go away within two weeks, or you feel suicidal, treatment is needed.

In many cases, a medical doctor can treat you for the depression, depending on the cause and the severity of your mental state. The important thing is to seek the help and to be as honest with your doctor as possible — whether your doctor is a therapist or not, he (or she) must still keep all conversations with you in confidence.

When should one seek help in cases of depression?

Counseling for Depression

Depression does require medication.

If you suffer from depression, and your doctor has prescribed an antidepressant for you, you will find that, in about three weeks, you are able to function in your life again — even while taking the medication.

Depression MedicationUnfortunately, this gives people a sense of “I’m all better now” that isn’t quite true. You see; depression does require medication, but it also requires counseling. Without proper counseling, you will never get to the root of the problem — what is causing the depression. The medication will not make that go away — it only deals with the symptoms of depression.

Counseling is needed to deal with the cause of the depression.

Counseling for depression may have two parts. The first part may be traditional therapy so that the counselor can help you to discover what the problem is, in the event that you do not already know. Sometimes depression has no visible cause. Other times, it may be caused by a physical condition that does not need any counseling at all — the depression lifts when the condition is treated.

So, traditional therapy may be needed, but that will usually be followed with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBTCognitive Behavioral Therapy essentially teaches you a new way of thinking — a new way of looking at or approaching a problem, — something that enables you to deal with the problem in a more constructive, timely manner. Once the problem that is causing the depression is taken care of, the depressed state lifts.

CBT can take anywhere from 12-20 weeks. Furthermore, depending on the severity of your depression, your doctor may not feel that counseling should be sought until the medication prescribed has a chance to work. On the other hand, he (or she) may think that the depression warrants immediate counseling. This varies from one individual to another.

Note that most therapists are not licensed to prescribe medication. That requires a medical doctor or a psychiatrist.

What Is the Symptoms of Depression?

Like an anxiety attack, depression can also be darned normal

Often events occur in our lives that actually give us cause to feel depressed. If a relationship has failed, it is normal to experience a short period of depression. The same is true if a loved one dies. In fact, you would not be considered normal if you never had any days where you felt “blue.” It is perfectly healthy.

However, there does come a point when the depression is not normal. It is no longer normal when the depression lingers on for more than two weeks. It is also no longer normal if thoughts of suicide enter your mind. When the depression is preventing you from doing your usual activities, this is not normal, and treatment should be sought.

Many people don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of depression — either in themselves or other people. It is vital to know what the signs are so that you can seek treatment, or offer support to a depressed friend or a loved one.

The most common signs and symptoms of depression are:

1.  Loss of energy
2.  Irritability
3.  Physical aches and pains
4.  Problems concentrating or staying focused
5.  Self-loathing
6.  Change in sleep patterns — either not sleeping well or sleeping too much
7.  Change in appetite — may eat more or eat less than usual
8.  Loss of interest in daily activities
9.  Feelings of helplessness
10.  Feelings of hopelessness

signs of depressionIf you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms, even short term, this is a sign that a serious depressed state exists. You should seek treatment. You can start with your medical doctor, and he will determine whether or not the depression is caused by a physical condition. If it is not, he will refer you to the appropriate doctor for treatment.

Never assume that the depression will pass. If it hasn’t passed within a couple of weeks, it most likely will not pass without the proper treatment.

 

Diagnosing Depression

Often the cause of depression is easily discovered.

Diagnosing depression is easy in some cases, and extremely difficult in others. If you find that you have been suffering from the symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, it is vital that you visit your doctor to find out what the problem is. Only a doctor can determine whether or not clinical depression exists, and whether or not treatment is required.

Depression - One Lonely ManYou should start with your medical doctor. He or she will perform a physical exam to see if there is a health problem that could be causing your depressed feeling. He will not only inquire about your physical state, but also he may also ask about medications that you are taking, your consumption of caffeine, your consumption of nicotine, your consumption of alcohol, and your consumption of illegal drugs. He or she may perform a blood test as there are certain viruses and other illnesses that can cause one to experience symptoms of depression, as well.

Once the physical exam is complete, your doctor may or may not refer you to a counselor for further diagnostic testing. They may also prescribe you an antidepressant; however, this is usually just for the short term, to see if the problem causing the depression passes. If the depression continues, however, the doctor will need to refer you for counseling.

The cause of depression is often easily discovered. If it isn’t a health problem, there may be something going on in your life that causes the depression. For this reason, your doctor and/or counselor may ask personal questions concerning your life or lifestyle. It is vital that you are totally honest with your health care professionals so that they can accurately diagnose and treat the problem. For this reason, it is noteworthy that you talk with your doctor alone. Have family members wait at home or in the waiting room.

Also read; Anxiety and Depression