Understanding Depression - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Understanding Depression

How to Deal with Depression

Depression is a serious medical illness marked by mood, cognitive and physical symptoms. It’s associated with high rates of chronic disease, impaired functioning, and increased healthcare utilization.

What’s even more alarming about depression is how many people are suffering in silence.

Nearly 8 percent of Americans have some kind of depression, but only about a third are receiving treatment for it, according to a data brief from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most depressed group is women ages 40 to 59 – more than 12 percent of women within that age group report being depressed. The least depressed group is teenage boys; only 4 percent have been diagnosed with depression.

Symptoms of Depression

People with depressive symptoms reported having more difficulties at work, home and social activities. Many studies have confirmed this by showing that people with depression have more functional limitations than those without depression.

Mood symptoms include a depressed, sad or irritable mood; loss of interest; inability to experience pleasure; feelings of guilt or worthlessness; and thoughts of death or suicide. Cognitive symptoms include the inability to concentrate and difficulty making decisions. And physical symptoms of depression include fatigue, lack of energy, feeling restless or slow, changes in sleep, appetite and activity levels.

When you consider these symptoms, it’s no wonder that they have the tendency to interfere with all aspects of a person’s life.

How to Deal with Depression

Treatment for depression works best when people are provided a combination of counseling and medication.

It can be difficult to differentiate clinical depression from the typical feeling of going through a difficult life event, such as the death of a loved one of the loss of a job. But, for most people, these feelings of grief and sadness tend to lessen with the passing of time.

Depression is more than a bout of feeling blue and it isn’t something that you can just “snap out of.” It may require long-term treatment. Most people with depression report feeling better with medication, psychological counseling or a combination of both.

If you think you’re depressed, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Depression tends to get worse if it isn’t treated can lead to other mental and physical health issues.

The prospects for recovery from depression for those who seek professional care are very good. By working with a qualified and experienced therapist, people suffering from depression can help regain control of their lives and ultimately feel better inside and out.

Common Questions About Depression

How do I know if I’m suffering from depression?

The key in deciding whether to seek help is how these feelings affect your day-to-day life and how long you have experienced them. For example, are you arguing frequently with people around you? Do you regularly have trouble sleeping, or have your eating habits changed? Is it difficult to pay attention, or to experience pleasure? Do you find yourself turning to drugs or alcohol for relief?

I think I’m depressed or anxious. What should I do?

Generally, if your feelings are persistent and pervasive, you should think about getting help. Many people who contact Crozer do so on their own, but others are referred by family doctors, or are put in touch with us by a relative or close friend.

I've started treatment. How long can I expect it to take before I feel better?

Many people report that they felt relieved after the initial call to Crozer—that it was reassuring just to hear someone say that help was at hand. But treatment is different for each person.

What are my treatment options?

Your formal treatment lasts until the symptoms cease. Every person is different, but in most cases, significant progress is achieved in 10 to 20 weeks, during which you spend 45 to 50 minutes each week with a psychiatrist. Over this period, most patients successfully learn how to cope with their situation and do not need to continue treatment. Those who must continue taking medication, however, will have to stop in periodically—perhaps once every six months—to be checked and to have their prescriptions reissued. Naturally, Crozer patients whose treatment has concluded are welcome to contact us at any time if they experience difficulties.

What happens when I call Crozer?

When you call Psychiatry Services at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, you are immediately put in touch with a board-eligible psychiatrist, a medical doctor who can provide comprehensive help. In that first conversation, he or she will ask what is bothering you, and will reassure you that you’re not alone. He or she will also tell you that help is readily available. An appointment will be set up as soon as possible.

What can I expect from my first visit and beyond?

When you come in, we assess your overall health, to rule out a physical cause for what you are feeling. Emotional difficulties have a physical basis about 10 percent of the time—examples include thyroid problems, and side effects of blood pressure medication. In these cases, treating the physical problem takes care of the emotional difficulty. More often, your feelings will have an emotional basis and must be addressed with talk therapy and possibly medication. You’d then meet weekly with your Crozer psychiatrist to sort through the problem and to develop skills that allow you to cope more effectively.

Will I be prescribed medication?

Taking medicine to correct an emotional disorder is no different from taking medicine to manage a physical disorder, such as insulin for diabetes. Medication may be prescribed for initial relief of physical and emotional symptoms to speed the healing process. Half of those who are prescribed medication for these purposes use it only temporarily; others require continuing medication.

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