health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

How to know when you should see a doctor for depression

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The symptoms of depression can start off subtly and if they last for longer than two weeks you would be wise to see a doctor. It can be tempting to think that the symptoms will go away on their own, but this may lead to a worsening of the symptoms you are experiencing. If you had a broken arm you would go to the doctor, right? The same is true for depression even though it is an invisible illness. It is the leading cause of disability in the world and should be taken seriously.

You may not want to go to see a physician for several reasons including facing rejection from others because of the stigma with mental illness, you feel it isn’t that serious, and maybe you are feeling to tired and unmotivated to go. The longer you wait for help, the longer it will take for you to feel better. You are the best judge of what kind of therapy is best for you; the doctor can recommend treatments that work well alone or together for your ultimate well-being.

To do an online check of your possible depression symptoms click on the image below.


Symptoms to look for before seeing a doctor

There are a few types of depression but many of the symptoms are the same. To start if you just aren’t feeling quite like your normal self it may be a clue that it is time to see a doctor. Depression is despair, overwhelming tiredness, irritability and sleep disturbances. These are a few of the obvious symptoms that debilitate and cause a person to be confused.

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It is confusing to be used to functioning and then be rendered incapable of even the simplest tasks. You may try harder yet feel like a failure. You may try to think positively which is good, but it won’t cure the depression. It is a daily battle and at its worst can lead to suicide. Yes, it is a serious condition.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Over or under eating
  • anger
  • Lack of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of despair
  • Body feels heavy
  • Movements are slower
  • Negative thinking
  • Isolating oneself

You may feel some or all these symptoms in varying intensities. There is help in dealing with these symptoms usually in the form of a combination of talk therapy and drug therapy. It may be hard to admit at first that what you are possibly experiencing is depression, but once you get a diagnosis from your doctor you’ll understand that it is real, serious and treatable.



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Mindfulness for my nocturnal self

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Mindfulness for insomnia

Everyone in the house is asleep but me; it has been a few days since my sleeping got messed up. Yesterday I slept until it was the afternoon and I was hoping when I fell asleep earlier than I had the past while, I would stay asleep. It is strange being awake when everyone is deep in slumber. This is part of the depression and it isn’t really something new to me. I wonder what I can do to reset my sleep pattern, though my patterns don’t stay the same for long. I’ve turned on Midnight in the Desert on Newstalk radio 1010 for company.

Far too many times have I sat awake ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Tonight, or if you prefer this morning, I’ve decided to try mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present. Research has shown that this helps people with insomnia and I hope it has the same effect on me. I’m feeling quite anxious and before I caught on to what I was doing to myself I was imaging the worst possible outcome to my housing situation and how I’m not prepared for it.

Harvard editor Dr. Ronald Siegel has some guided meditations online that I am going to try. Done. Amazing! I started to yawn while doing the breathing exercises and my body feels much more relaxed. I was told about breathing exercises when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but I haven’t made it a habit. It felt so good to do the exercise that I’m going to have to make a part of my daily routine. I highly suggest that you try it.

Where did mindfulness originate?

I assumed that mindfulness originated in psychology, but I am wrong. It cannot be described as being an eastern or western concept. There is a history of mindfulness being practiced and taught by Hindus and Buddhists; there are differing thoughts on where mindfulness originated. Known history goes back 2,500 years; the methods have changed but the purpose of practicing mindfulness to end pain is the same. The forms of mindfulness have changed and are part of what is now called ” The Mindfulness Movement”, and Time magazine called the popularity of the practice ” The Mindful Revolution”.

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It is understood that Budda was a prince who denounced his privileged lifestyle when he learned of the suffering that surrounded him. He then became a teacher on how to eliminate suffering and be a compassionate person using mindfulness. In the 1970s a psychologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn, of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, was asked to help patients with pain. He had been learning mindfulness at the Insight Meditation Society which has its roots in Buddism. He created a program called the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program using the techniques of meditation. It is now called the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program and is used in psychiatry as a means for healing and management of depressive disorders.

How does mindfulness help people diagnosed with depression?

Mindfulness has been shown to improve the cognitive symptoms of depression. Cognitive impairment can cause a distortion in thinking increasing negative thoughts and affecting concentration. The practice of mindfulness helps the person with depression focus on the moment and recognize their negative thoughts are untrue. People can then see their negative thoughts as being less powerful and therefore lessen the discomfort that these despairing thoughts cause.

It is important for people with depression to detach from their negative and distorted thoughts; mindfulness keeps the person’s mind from wandering and helps a person maintain control of their thoughts. Mindfulness has expanded to include mindfulness-based art therapy. Research studies on 44 people with depression using mindfulness techniques resulted in reduced symptoms of depression over a period of twelve weeks.

What are other benefits of deep breathing?

Mindfulness practices include deep and concentrated breathing; you focus on each breath in and out for a brief time. Deep breathing is also known as belly breathing, abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and paced respiration. It slows the heart beat and lowers blood pressure.

By making mindfulness a part of your routine you will notice a reduction in stress making you feel more relaxed. When you catch on to your negative thinking you can replace these thoughts with a mantra or saying that you create when you’re in a better state of mind.

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While you can’t will your way out of depression with positive thinking, mindfulness contributes to combating the symptoms that negative thinking leads to. Types of negative thinking includes:

  • Catastrophic thinking- believing the worst possible outcome of a situation will happen. This is not a rare occurrence. It is depression and anxiety talking and the pattern needs to be broken for relief to be felt.
  • Jumping to conclusions- these are beliefs without evidence and the conclusion is usually negative.
  • Personalization-thinking that negative actions or occurrences are solely your fault.
  • Blaming- we are responsible for our emotions; blaming blames ourselves or others for the pain we are experiencing
  • Emotional reasoning-giving in to negative emotions that aren’t true.
  • Overgeneralizing-making a negative conclusion based on limited evidence
  • Black and white-believing opposite extremes without leaving room for in-between answers
  • Filtering-ignoring positive attributes of a situation and focusing only on the negative

As you can see cognitive distortions can cause a lot of needless painful experiences. Using mindfulness techniques eliminates the unrealistic thinking from continuing any further. Depression and anxiety are suffered by many people concurrently and the negative thinking patterns of both conditions can sneak up when you least expect it. Mindfulness helps people to stop and recognize that their harmful thoughts are irrational and not act or dwell upon them. I feel better already just by recognizing that I was catastrophizing what could possibly happen concerning my housing situation. I don’t have any evidence of the earlier what ifs I was toying with thereby making me feel crummy. Mindfulness has helped me tonight, I hope you will try it too.

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Antidepressants: Can they all be considered medicine?

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What is medicine?

Definition of medicine

1 a : a substance or preparation used in treating disease

  • cough medicine

    b : something that affects well-being

  • he’s bad medicine
  • —Zane Grey

    2 a : the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease

  • She’s interested in a career in medicine.

    b : the branch of medicine concerned with the nonsurgical treatment of disease

    3 : a substance (such as a drug or potion) used to treat something other than disease

    4 : an object held in traditional American Indian belief to give control over natural or magical forces; also : magical power or a magical rite


    “Medicine.” Merriam-Webster.com, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medicine. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

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    I respect the practice of medicine, as a matter of fact, I have considered a career in medicine since I was a child. It is my desire to make helping people a number one priority. Having said this. There are some areas and treatments used in medicine that I find to be confusing and downright harmful. Antidepressants affect me personally as I use them for treatment of depression. I trust my doctor and I believe the doctor is acting on training that she has received. There have been a few antidepressants prescribed to me that had ill effects that were so uncomfortable that I had to stop taking them. Seemingly a no-brainer to me is that if a drug is to be considered a medicine it shouldn’t cause harm.

    There have been many news articles and controversies surrounding the use of antidepressants. We see that many people who have committed violent crimes were taking antidepressants and many people are concerned about their detrimental effects. Was it the mental illness that caused these horrendous incidents or was it the drugs or a combination of both? I certainly don’t want to be taking a drug that has the potential to make me violent; this has never happened to me, but I have experienced the negative effects of certain drugs that were detrimental to my well being. My thought is that if a medicine causes harm, can it really be considered a medicine? E.g. Antidepressants that increase suicidal tendencies. Isn’t this a no-brainer that these kinds of drugs cannot be considered medicine? Depression causes suicidal thinking; a medicine should not affect a person trying to relieve the symptoms of depression, and certainly not intensify them. To me this is too risky and not worth any benefit(s) that the drug may produce.

    I am not a doctor and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from taking their prescribed drugs, but the last thing I expect from an antidepressant is to make me feel worse. I met a girl recently who had to stop taking the medicine because her anxiety and depression became worse for a few weeks when she started to take them. During my treatments over the past few years, I haven’t found the right combination or one antidepressant that has enabled me to function as I’d like to for more than a few months. Some people experience bouts of depression for a seemingly short time while others like myself suffer intense symptoms that are debilitating for years. Am I suffering for years because of not taking the right antidepressant for me? Why do some people suffer for a short time and others for longer? There isn’t a cure all type of antidepressant that works for everyone; why is this?


    Why don’t antidepressants work for everyone?

    People diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder each have differing intensities of symptoms, some more than others and scientists conclude it is because of a person’s genetics. The danger, says Dr. Marianne Müller is that people suffering intense depressive symptoms including suicidal tendencies don’t have enough time to try to find the right medicine that rids the person of suicidal thinking. Some people may commit suicide even though they are taking medicine for their depression. The presence or lack of transcription factor levels predicted with 76% accuracy how someone will respond to SSRIs (serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitor). This high level of response data is not enough to develop new medicines. It is noted by another doctor not involved in this study, Dr. Victor Reus, that the HPA axis most likely contributes to depression, that is the body’s response to stress. Researchers are looking for genetic differences to explain why different types of antidepressants don’t work well for everybody diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

    It has been estimated that more than half of people prescribed antidepressants don’t feel better after taking them. It has been found that the makers of antidepressant have not made the medicine to get at the more complex causes, instead they have oversimplified the cause and as such the drugs only target these simplified areas. The two main beliefs factored into the making of antidepressants includes difficult life circumstances and an imbalance in neurotransmitters as the causes of major depressive disorder. Depression researcher Eva Redei has found inconclusive evidence that stress contributes to depression, while she notes that the drugs purpose is to relieve stress symptoms. As for the theory that depression is caused by decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine she says that treatments aim at the effects, not the cause. Further research is necessary to determine what the cause is exactly.

    Another finding suggests that reducing the amount of autoreceptors may increase the positive effects of antidepressants. Autoreceptors are responsible for sending messages to the axon terminal deciphering how much of a neurotransmitter has been released. The higher the level of autoreceptors detected, the less effective antidepressants were shown to be.

    An obvious reason that antidepressants won’t work is because of a misdiagnosis. There are questions you should ask before commencing treatment to see if they are right for you:

  1. Is it depression causing pain?
  2. Are you willing to try different treatments for an extended period?
  3. Would antidepressants work best with another therapy such as counselling?
  4. Do you trust your doctor?

Basically, it’s best to realize that treatment may need to be ongoing and a matter of trial and error. Build a trusting relationship with your doctor and communicate about your concerns before taking an antidepressant. Know what to expect and be prepared for trying new medicines to alleviate your pain.

What to do when antidepressants don’t work effectively

If the antidepressants you have been prescribed aren’t helping you may have what is called treatment-resistant depression. It may be mild or severe. If you aren’t already seeing a mental health professional seek one out. They can determine what is contributing to your depressive episode(s) and what can be done about it while excluding other possible causes for your symptoms. Together you may find that you require more time to adjust to the medicine, you may need to increase the dose, or you may need to start taking a different type of antidepressant. This can be a frustrating time waiting for relief from this painful disorder. Reach out and talk about it with your doctor, a counselling phone line or someone you trust to get the support you need to help you through this time.

Other treatments are physical and include electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation. In addition, there are other measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Live a healthier lifestyle that includes the reduction of alcohol and drugs, eating a more nutritious diet, including exercise into your daily routine, and using stress reduction techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness.

I know from first hand experience about the difficulties faced when antidepressants don’t work. Reaching out to someone to talk about my experience has been helpful, but still caused me great concern when my mood was extremely low with no remedy. Taking pictures of nature was very calming and interesting during daily walks in the spring and summer. It is a frightening experience to suffer from despair and think about suicide daily; many people are speaking up about not having enough resources dedicated to helping people with mental health issues like major depressive disorder. Hopefully, soon enough we will have more options for remedy and relief for our painful symptoms of depression.

Leave a comment. Have you had an experience with antidepressants you want to mention?

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My first visit with a psychiatrist

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What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are physicians who treat people with mental illnesses. These illnesses include major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. They may prescribe medication or special treatments that are beneficial to their patients. My first visit I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that you are supposed to tell the doctor all your problems and they would have a solution as to how to overcome difficult situations. The doctor prescribed Prozac and I had to be monitored because I was a teenager and it is sometimes risky for teens to be taking antidepressants.

The effects of antidepressants

After a few weeks of taking Prozac I felt like a zombie. I didn’t feel immediate relief, but this is how many antidepressants work on people. It can take some time to get the right medication combinations before relief is felt. I lost weight and I didn’t mind this, but I experienced a few traumatic events in a short period of time and I’m not quite sure that any medicine would lessen the pain that these events caused. I appreciated the kindness that the doctor showed me, and I trusted his judgement. When I told him of my symptoms he weaned me off Prozac and prescribed Paxil to me. This pill worked better than the Prozac; I went to counselling sessions and took the medicine which was helpful at the time. More side effects of the medicine upset me, so I was prescribed Zoloft.

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Getting used to the fact I need medication

After years of going on and off medication I have reached a point where I have needed antidepressants for a few years. It has been a matter of finding the right medication with minimal side effects. The funny thing is that some of these medicines have side effects that are like depression. It is a little bewildering that some antidepressants can intensify suicidal ideation. Some of these medicines made me tired and one altered my menstrual cycle. Once I tried St. John’s Wort for a little bit, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t think that depression would be a life long ordeal that needs to be tended to every day; I don’t like taking the medicine, but I know I need it.

Regular appointments with my psychiatrist

For the past few years I have had mornings where I wake up in despair thinking about suicide. I have needed to see my doctor monthly for quite some time. The past few months have been much better in terms of thinking about suicide the moment I awake but I continue to go every month. It is a little frustrating that all my symptoms have not been alleviated no matter how hard I try to do everything I know how to do to combat depression.

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Being diagnosed with depression

How I’ve come to understand major depressive disorder

It has been 27 years since I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I’m still not comfortable in handling it and find the symptoms difficult to handle every time I have suffered from an episode. Like many people, I believed that moodiness was a part of my personality; it is a relief to find out that the dreary thoughts are not inherently me. I see this is true after some thought because I really am an optimist and like to come up with creative solutions to problems. Major depressive disorder changes this quality and it is hard to bear.   

Why do I have to suffer from this dreadful illness?

Major depressive disorder for me is a hereditary condition that mixed with difficult life circumstances, has become a major hindrance in living my life to the fullest, which is what I desire to do. When I’m tired I have to remind myself that I am not being lazy when I lie in bed. Needing to rest in bed sometimes occurs every day for months on end. I have slept through most of this past winter and now don’t really know what to do with myself. I do wonder why I must have clinical depression weighing me down for years now.  

Why am I telling you about suffering from clinical depression?

Depression has a stigma attached to it and for a long time I would rather not talk about it. I have felt like I need to keep it a secret; my family knows but at my worst I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell them how dire my situation is at times. Recurring thoughts of committing suicide every morning for 3 years has finally come to an end. I believe that too many people don’t understand how serious major depressive disorder is. By adding my voice, I hope to help others learn about coping with depression.

I am embarrassed to have clinical depression

The symptoms of major depressive disorder have left me unemployed, reclusive and irritable. I’d hate for people to see me at my worst because though it doesn’t show, I try to brave this illness with my chin up. I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home as a copywriter. I have also tried to sell crafts online on Etsy. Insomnia, body aches and fatigue dictate when I can work and for how long. I am not able to hold a steady job which is the most embarrassing part of this. I used to pride myself on being strong but depression has made me see that I really am weak. Both of my grandfathers were soldiers and I almost squirm wondering what they would think about me not being able to conquer all the symptoms of depression. I’m sure they would both love me but I can’t help but feel I am an embarrassment to my family. 

Understanding clinical depression

Though it has been years since my diagnoses of depression I still find the illness to be confusing. This is especially true when I try best to follow self-care practises that are supposed to alleviate the symptoms. 

Symptoms include: 

  • fatigue
  • sadness
  • low self-esteem
  • body aches
  • insomnia
  • sleeping too much
  • change in appetite
  • irritability
  • feeling of bodily heaviness
  • slow movements
  • suicidal thinking

  

I’d like to stress that depression shouldn’t be treated casually. Genuine concern and care help to alleviate some of the pain and suffering experienced in the depths of depression. 


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