10. Have you been treated for depression?

Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts.  It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.  Appropriate treatment can help most people who suffer from depression.

Depression is more than feelings of sadness.  If you are experiencing:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts 
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

then you may be experiencing depression and should talk with your physician about it right away.

Treatment can improve your quality of life...

Adults who are depressed are commonly less physically healthy, are less socially active and less satisfied with their lives than adults who are not depressed.  These are just a few reasons why getting treatment is so important. 

There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psychotherapies (including psychoanalysis, group therapy and behavioral therapy) that can be used to treat depressive disorders.  Some people with milder forms of depression may do well with psychotherapy alone.  People with moderate to severe depression most often benefit from antidepressants.  However, most people who are faced with depression do best with combined treatment; medication to gain relatively quick symptom relief and psychotherapy to learn more effective ways to deal with life’s challenges, including depressions.

...and have important financial benefits...

  • Depression affects approximately 10% of Americans, usually people in their prime working years (age 18 and older).
  • Researchers estimate that depression accounts for approximately 225 million sick days annually in the U.S.
  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and market economies worldwide. 
  • Depression has the highest medical benefit costs for all behavioral conditions.
  • Depression costs the U.S. $51.5 billion annually.

What else can be done to improve depression?

Early detection and sustained treatment can lead to improved treatment outcomes. Many people with a depressive illness do not seek treatment or have difficulty staying on medication for the necessary periods of time. Of particular importance is ensuring appropriate follow-up visits to improve the effective use of antidepressant medications.

Three important ways to improve the medical management of depression include:

  1. Frequent Clinician Patient Contact: We urge you to come in for at least three follow-up office visits with your clinician or a mental health provider in the 12-week period after a diagnosis of depression and prescription of antidepressant medication. This is important because everyone responds differently to medication, and it is important to communicate your experience with your physician to receive the greatest benefit from your medication.
  2. Effective Acute Phase Medication Treatment: Be sure you receive adequate follow-up visits and medication change if needed after starting medication treatment for a new episode of depression. Acute phase treatment is the period in which you are started on medication until your symptoms have improved.
  3. Effective Continuation Phase Treatment: Be sure you remain on your antidepressant medication continuously for at least six months after improvement of the new episode of depression.  You will be much less likely to have the depression recur when the medication is gradually lowered or discontinued if you have felt well for six months. Never discontinue medication without first consulting your physician.

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

www.affinityhealth.org
then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html
www.medlineplus.gov


Adapted from: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO)
Reviewed: 1/07
Reviewer: rfc

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