Perhaps due to my professional and personal experience, I have had a couple of my friends recently choose to reveal to me that they are struggling with depression. The friends that have talked to me about this have expressed having a lot of stressors they are dealing with, have vented these to me, expressed feeling like they should not feel the way they feel, and expressed not wanting to continue feeling depressed.
This experience reminded me that depression is a very common condition that many people deal with; yet,many have great difficulty expressing that they are struggling and have difficulty knowing how to handle it. Often, people don’t know if they should get help, what type of help to get, and how to get the help they need. What I want to do today is address these issues in order to help people get the help they need.
First off, know that depression is a condition characterized by depressed (or apathetic) mood, lack of pleasure and enjoyment, changes in appetite and sleep, thoughts about death or suicide, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or hopelessness. At least some of these symptoms last for at least 2 weeks and occur most days during the majority of the day. If you feel like you relate to this, it is important to seek help.
Second, know that you have some options for getting help. If you are interested in trying medication, you can talk to either your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist about trying an anti-depressant. Both are medical doctors but psychiatrists specialize in the treatment of mental health conditions.
You can find a psychiatrist through your local community mental health center (which in my area is Peace River or The Sweet Center), by calling your insurance provider to find out who is in network, or by contacting a psychitrist office directly and finding out if they accept your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, using a community mental health center is your best bet.
Another option, which I am a big proponent of, is counseling. There are multiple options related to counseling. You can utilize community mental health therapists, faith-based therapists, private practice therapists, and college counselors. You can find a counselor in the same manner I described finding a psychiatrist or, if you are a student, you may be able to even receive services through your school. Counseling is great if you need a place to vent and have someone help you come up with tools to implement to better cope with life.
Some people prefer counseling or medication and some prefer both combined. I believe that this should be based on your preferences AND on what is the most helpful for you.
Third, know that doing things to take care of yourself such as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, meditation, deep breathing, having fun, and exercise can all be helpful in recovery as well. If you are in therapy and your therapist asks you to do certain “homework” or practice certain skills, then try to follow through on these recommendations as this is part of caring for yourself as well.
Coping with depression is very possible but it does take some time, hard work, patience with yourself, and working on believing you are a beautiful work in progress that is wonderfully made.
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/49968232@N00/4486713705/”>Leo Reynolds</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>