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Am I Depressed? What to Do if You Think You Have a Mental Health Disorder

Am I Depressed? What to Do if You Think You Have a Mental Health Disorder

Everyone experiences sadness, but when these feelings interfere with daily life and cause excessive pain, a mental illness might be to blame.

Depression affects one out of ten Americans at any given time, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Though treatment and help are available, too many people are oblivious to their feelings or refuse to acknowledge them. Negative stigmas that surround mental health issues make it difficult for people to get the help they need.

If you think you have depression, the key is to acknowledge that recovery is possible.

How to Overcome and Heal from Depression

Recovering from depression requires action, but because depression zaps your energy, taking action when you’re down can be hard. This is why it’s important to start with a few small goals and then build from there.

  1. Build a network of support. The first step in clearing the fog of depression is to cultivate supportive relationships. Since depression results in isolation and loneliness, taking the initiative to build a supportive network is paramount to recovery. Turn to trusted friends and family members, and push yourself to attend social activities even when you feel too tired to go. Finally, confide in a counselor or therapist who will also teach you practical tools to handle negative thoughts and emotions.
  1. Challenge any negative thoughts. “Thinking positive” isn’t enough to break out of a pessimistic mindset. Instead, replace negative thoughts with balanced thinking. Start with allowing yourself to be less than perfect. Depression often starts when people set impossibly high standards and then beat themselves up when failing to meet perfectionist expectations. Be conscious in battling this source of self-imposed stress.

Surround yourself with your network of support. By socializing with positive people, you can learn how they are able to look at the bright side, even when challenges arise. Even if you have to pretend, try to practice these observations in your daily life. Remember, practice makes perfect!

  1. Take care of your body. Yes, depression is a mental health disorder, but your physical body also plays a major role in recovery. A healthy and balanced lifestyle makes it easier to manage stress. Be sure to aim for eight hours of sleep every night, as rest directly impacts your mood. Exposing yourself to sunlight is another good way to boost your mood throughout the day.
  1. Exercise and eat healthy. Did you know that physical activity could potentially be as effective as antidepressant medication? Scientists have discovered that physical activity not only releases mood-enhancing endorphins, but also triggers new cell growth in the brain, reduces stress, and relieves muscle tension. Eating healthy food enhances your physical exercise by stabilizing your mood and helping you feel better about your body.

No matter what, if you suspect you have depression, it’s critical to seek professional help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Negative thinking can make you feel like a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can experience the brighter side of life.

If you use drugs or alcohol, you may have a dual diagnosis where an addictive disorder exists in tandem with a depressive disorder. Treating both simultaneously is key to your recovery.

To learn more about depression and recovery, call (800) 493-5253 or contact us online today.

Recognizing Depression

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 10 Americans have reported feeling clinically depressed at some point or have suffered debilitating depression that prevents them from working or socializing.

You may be diagnosed with major depression if you experience five or more of these symptoms for at least two consecutive weeks:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, anxiety and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities that previously provided pleasure
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Restlessness, agitation and irritability
  • Cognitive difficulties such as indecisiveness, forgetfulness or “foggy” thinking
  • Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) or insomnia
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss (alternately, some depressed people will overeat and gain weight)
  • Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts
  • Physical illnesses that fail to respond to treatment (migraines, gastrointestinal problems, body aches and general pain)

What to do if you think you have depression depends on whether your depression is accompanied by a drug or alcohol addiction. Your family physician can prescribe antidepressants or refer you to a mental health counselor if you are depressed but do not suffer from a substance or behavioral addiction. However, when addiction and depression co-exist, the need to get help from a top addiction recovery center like JourneyPure Emerald Coast is crucial to your health and well-being.

Depression and Addiction

Drug addicts and alcoholics are two to four times more likely to suffer from major depression than people unaffected by substance abuse disorder. In fact, over half of those seeking help at our addiction recovery facility are eventually diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

Many depressed people choose to self-medicate instead of seeking professional help. Once an addict (or more specifically, the addict’s brain) is exposed to a substance such as alcohol, heroin, meth or pain pills, they experience immediate but temporary relief from depression. When abnormally high levels of certain brain chemicals caused by ingesting addictive substances suddenly drop after a few hours, the addict feels depressed again. In addition, their depression is worsened by the brain’s powerful cravings for more drugs or alcohol.

Discovering whether depression existed before the addiction or vice versa is vital to developing a proper treatment plan for our clients. Some addicts may suffer from chronic pain due to an accident or disease and start abusing prescription medications. Others may start using out of nothing more than curiosity or peer pressure. Therefore, depression caused by a chemical or behavioral addiction will not require the same treatment methods demanded by those who suffered from depression before the addiction.

What to Do If You Have Depression — Treatment Options

Antidepressant Medications

While searching for a cure for depression in the 1950s, researchers accidentally discovered the mood-altering effects of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Some of these older tricyclic antidepressants are still in use today, such as the amitriptylines Elavil, Nardil and Marplan. Although helpful at the time they were discovered, MAOIs tend to arbitrarily inhibit reuptake of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which may cause adverse side effects in some people.

Today, “second-generation” antidepressants are more commonly prescribed, and these are fluoxetine-based selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). These medications include Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac and Lexapro. While SSRIs and MAOIs can provide relief from depression, newer SSRIs do not produce the adverse side effects that older antidepressants do because they primarily target serotonin receptors instead of dopamine or norepinephrine receptors.

Relief from clinical depression has always revolved around regulating levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier, so it must be created in the brain. Responsible for regulating mood, arousal, internal temperature, pain sensitivity, sleep and appetite, serotonin tends to reduce the intensity of something it regulates, such as mood and emotions. When too little serotonin is available to the brain, depression may result, as well as insomnia and hypersensitivity to pain.

If you are treated at our facility for depression and addiction, our psychiatrists may prescribe one of the following antidepressants:

  • Abilify: This medication treats mood as well as certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It is frequently used in conjunction with other medications for the treatment of depression.
  • Effexor: In addition to regulating serotonin levels, Effexor also contains an extra boost of norepinephrine to alleviate symptoms of depression. Effexor is generally prescribed to those who do not respond to other antidepressants.
  • Celexa and Lexapro: Both of these are SSRIs that prevent receptors from “holding on” to serotonin so that levels of this neurotransmitter return to normal.
  • Cymbalta: In addition to treating clinical depression symptoms, Cymbalta also contains extra substances to relieve extreme anxiety and fibromyalgia pain
  • Paxil and Zoloft: These two medications are prescribed to clients for depression as well as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

We also offer individual and group counseling depression treatment options for clients suffering all degrees of depression:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication
  • Holistic methods such as nutritional, exercise and relaxation therapy
  • Counseling paradigms — positive, existential, rational-emotive, etc.

When used in combination with medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to greatly improve the ability of our clients to manage feelings of sadness, hopelessness and overwhelming guilt. Professional CBT counselors help clients by educating them about the trap of self-critical and defeating thinking patterns that can distort the way they perceive themselves and reality. In addition, therapists specializing in CBT show clients how to recognize and stop false beliefs about themselves and others before these thoughts create destructive emotions that threaten their sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem.

 What to Do When You Think You Have Depression

Call JourneyPure Emerald Coast today to speak to a caring staff member who will talk to you about getting treatment. We sincerely want to help you overcome your depression and addiction problems, and we offer unconditional support any time you need it. Contact us today online or at (800) 493-5253.