Depression is a very prevalent — and potentially extremely serious — mental disorder. While depression sufferers are often misunderstood by their friends and family, it’s not something you can just “snap out of.” It’s important to recognize that depression is more than just feeling down; it can include irritability, sleeplessness, moderate to extreme melancholy, mood swings, and a number of other physical and mental symptoms.
Depression management. True depression often requires treatment, but bear in mind that treatment doesn’t necessarily mean pharmaceutical intervention. In fact, it is estimated that the majority of depression sufferers do not need antidepressant drugs or that they will only need them for a short period of time while learning coping skills and other forms of depression management. In addition to these types of depression management, you should also be evaluated by your medical doctor to ensure that there are no underlying conditions that could be causing or contributing to your depression.
Talk therapy. Possibly the most common form of depression management is “talk therapy.” This is usually the first stop for depression sufferers unless there is evidence that someone may be a danger to themselves or others. A qualified therapist can evaluate your depression, potential sources and contributing factors. He or she may help you work through destructive thoughts or mindsets, as well as put coping mechanisms in place to help you deal with your depression symptoms.
Lifestyle changes. Depression can be an indication that your body simply isn’t getting what it needs. It’s extremely important to make sure you get sufficient exercise, regular exposure to sunlight and good quality sleep. Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet, as well as avoid drugs, alcohol and excessive nicotine. Incorporate stress management into your normal daily routine, and set a schedule that can help you be more productive and feel more in control every day.
Medications. In severe cases, or where other forms of depression management are not working, then antidepressant drugs may be recommended. Make sure that this is only done under the close supervision of a qualified doctor; in some cases, you may react completely differently to the drug than intended. The National Institute of Mental Health warns, “Possible side effects to look for are worsening depression, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as sleeplessness, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations.” If there are any signs that you will develop these complications, then your doctor may try dose reduction or a different type of antidepressant.