The signs of high-functioning anxiety and depression can get hidden within seemingly reasonable justifications. Even though one might be holding down a job, going to school, or in a healthy relationship, he or she experiences disruptions in life activities that may not be necessarily obvious. Some of these hidden disruptions can be seen in behaviors such as declining social invitations with the excuse that work has been busy or stressful, sleeping more or sleeping less, and an overreliance on coping mechanisms like excessive exercise, overeating, or overindulging in alcohol or illicit substances.
Websites run by organizations like the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provide copious background information as well as updates on clinical trials. Grassroots groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness connect you with support and services, offer education, and let you know that you are not alone. Personal blogs share the struggle and the wisdom of lived experience. And numerous online depression tests can help those who aren’t sure whether or not they need help get started on the pathway to a healthier life.
When psychotherapy and antidepressants don’t work, clinicians may turn to other treatment options. Usually the first is to try and adjunct medication to the existing antidepressant medication. In more serious or treatment-resistant cases, additional treatment options may be tried (like ECT or rTMS). Ketamine infusion treatments also appear to be effective, but are generally not covered by insurance and the long-term risks are unknown.
National Institute of Mental Health: "Mental Health Medications," "Antidepressants.", Mayo Clinic: "Antidepressants: Selecting one that's right for you.", The New York Times: "Meditation Plus Running as a Treatment for Depression," "To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy?"; Pond5; Guido Vrola; Rocketclips, Inc.; pertusinas; Andrey Popov; Thinkstock; EpicStockMedia; AudioJungle.
People with substance use problems—There is a direct link between depression and problem substance use. Many people who are experiencing depression turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort. Overuse of substances can actually add to depression in some people. This is because some substances like alcohol, heroin and prescription sleeping pills lower brain activity, making you feel more depressed. Even drugs that stimulate your brain like cocaine and speed can make you more depressed after other effects wear off. Other factors, like family history, trauma or other life circumstances may make a person vulnerable to both alcohol/drug problems and depression.
The future is very bright for the treatment of depression. In response to the customs and practices of their patients from a variety of cultures, physicians are becoming more sensitized to and knowledgeable about natural remedies. Vitamins and other nutritional supplements like vitamin D, folate, and vitamin B12 may be useful in alleviating mild depression when used alone or more severe degrees of depression when used in combination with an antidepressant medication. Another intervention from alternative medicine is St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). This herbal remedy is helpful for some individuals who suffer from mild depression. However, St. John's wort being an herbal remedy is no guarantee against developing complications. For example, its chemical similarity to many antidepressants disqualifies it from being given to people who are taking those medications.
Additional medication can also be taken. That might help to relieve the symptoms, but no antidepressant can guarantee that. It can take a long time for a medication to start helping some people. Other people still have symptoms even after trying several different medications. They can then discuss the alternative treatment options with their doctor.
What we do know is certain medications that alter the levels of norepinephrine or serotonin can alleviate the symptoms of depression. Some medicines that affect both of these neurochemical systems appear to perform even better or faster. Other medications that treat depression primarily affect the other neurochemical systems. One of the most powerful treatments for depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is certainly not specific to any particular neurotransmitter system. Rather, ECT, by causing a seizure, produces a generalized brain activity that probably releases massive amounts of all of the neurochemicals.
It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.
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Do your best to not be this way. Instead, choose to accept your diagnosis and to take the medications and other therapies that have been prescribed for you regularly. Make it a point to talk with your doctor when you are not getting relief as expected or new symptoms develop so that your doctor has a chance to address these concerns. Tell the people that you are close to that you are clinically depressed and ask for their help in overcoming the problem. For instance, your friends can help you resist the urge to withdraw and isolate, and give you feedback as to how you appear to be doing both physically and emotionally. Allow the time necessary for medication therapies to pass before you decide that they aren't working. In general, accept your diagnosis and cooperate as best you can with the people who are trying to help you recover.
Prioritize. Depression is frequently an overwhelming situation. At the same time that you are depressed and suffering, life demands do not stop. One way to reduce the amount of stress you experience is to prioritize the demands you are facing and then to attend to only the most pressing tasks. Enlist the help of other family members or friends to get the rest of your responsibilities done, or simply let them ride for a while. For instance, if you normally cook the evening meal for your family after returning home from a full day's work, perhaps you can figure out an easier way to get dinner on the table for a while (working to support the family is a higher priority than making sure that every meal the family eats is nicely balanced and well-presented).
Opinions vary on how effective antidepressants are in relieving the symptoms of depression. Some people doubt they help, while others consider them to be essential. But as is true for many other treatments, these medications may help in some situations, and not in others. They are effective for moderate, severe and chronic depression, but probably not for mild cases. They can also have side effects. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of antidepressants with your doctor.
Medication. Many people with depression find that taking prescribed medications called antidepressants can help improve their mood and coping skills. Talk to your doctor about whether they are right for you. If your doctor writes you a prescription for an antidepressant‚ ask exactly how you should take the medication. If you are already using nicotine replacement therapy or another medication to help you quit smoking, be sure to let your doctor know. Several antidepressant medications are available‚ so you and your doctor have options to choose from. Sometimes it takes several tries to find the best medication and the right dose for you, so be patient. Also be aware of the following important information:
Millions of Americans take an anti-inflammatory medication like Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen) for occasional aches and pains. Many take one daily for arthritis. And one common prescription medicine — Celebrex (celecoxib) — may not be helpful just for joint pain, it may also be a decent treatment for depression. Many researchers believe that there’s a link between depression and systemic inflammation — at least for some people. So, can an anti-inflammatory medicine — especially COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex — help with symptoms of depression?
It is important to communicate regularly with your doctor when you are taking an antidepressant, especially if you are prescribed any other medications. Keep track of your symptoms so that they can find the best medication for your depression, and also keep track of any side effects you experience. If you’re having trouble finding a medication that works, drug-genetic testing can help your doctor determine appropriate options. If you become pregnant or are breastfeeding, be sure to ask what medication is safest.
Mirtazapine (Remeron), another antidepressant, is a tetracyclic compound (four-ring chemical structure). It works at somewhat different biochemical sites and in different ways than the other medications. It affects serotonin but at a postsynaptic site (after the connection between nerve cells). It also increases histamine levels, which can cause drowsiness. For this reason, patients take mirtazapine at bedtime; physicians often prescribe mirtazapine for people who have trouble falling asleep. Like the SNRIs, it also works by increasing levels in the norepinephrine system. Other than causing sedation, this medication has side effects that are similar to those of the SSRIs.
TCAs are safe and generally well tolerated when properly prescribed and administered. However, if taken in overdose, TCAs can cause life-threatening heart-rhythm disturbances. Some TCAs can also have anticholinergic side effects, which are due to the blocking of the activity of the nerves that are responsible for control of the heart rate, gut motion, visual focus, and saliva production. Thus, some TCAs can produce dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and dizziness upon standing. The dizziness results from low blood pressure that occurs upon standing (orthostatic hypotension). Anticholinergic side effects can also aggravate narrow-angle glaucoma, urinary obstruction due to benign prostate enlargement (hypertrophy), and cause delirium in the elderly. Patients with seizure disorders or a history of strokes should avoid TCAs.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were one of the first approved antidepressants. Although they are effective, they have been replaced by newer antidepressants that generally cause fewer side effects. Like SNRIs, TCAs work by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Additionally, they block muscarinic M1, histamine H1, and alpha-adrenergic receptors.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
The most common symptoms of anxiety are fear and worry. Anxiety can also cause restlessness, and difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Sometimes people will express anxiety by being irritable, tired or even stubborn. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like muscle tension, shortness of breath or even feelings of panic. Nearly everyone feels anxiety when faced with a bad physical problem. Anxiety becomes a concern when these feelings are very strong and interfere with important tasks in life.
Perimenopause, which is the time of life immediately before and after menopause, can last as long as 10 years. While perimenopause and menopause are normal stages of life, perimenopause increases the risk of depression during that time. Also, women who have had depression in the past are five times more likely to develop major depression during perimenopause.
Talk therapy involves discussing your problems and how you feel with a trained therapist. Your therapist can help you detect patterns of thought or behavior that contribute to your depression. You may be given homework, such as tracking your moods or writing in journals. This will help you to continue your treatment outside of appointments. Your therapist can also teach you exercises to reduce stress and anxiety, and help you understand your illness.
It is not uncommon to experience occasional and brief periods of feeling down and anxious. These episodes are not usually a cause for concern, and once passed, you are able to resume life as usual. But, if you suffer from depression and anxiety and your symptoms are present for more than two weeks, frequently recur, or are interfering with how you live your life, it’s time to get help.
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects the whole body including mood and thoughts. It touches every part of one’s life. It is important to know that depression is not a weakness or character flaw—it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be treated. If you have one episode of depression, you are at risk of having more throughout life. Without treatment, depression can happen more often and become more serious. Scientists believe that depression doesn’t have a singular cause, but may be brought on by a traumatic event, changes in life circumstances, genetics, changes in the brain, or alcohol or drug abuse.
TCAs have been in use since the 1950s when imipramine (Tofranil) was shown to be effective for treating depression. TCAs primarily work by increasing the level of norepinephrine in the brain and to a lesser extent serotonin levels. Some TCAs also are antihistamines (block the action of histamine) or anticholinergic (block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter), and these additional actions allow for uses of TCAs other than for treating depression as well as additional side effects.
“[If there was] certainty that an acute episode [of depression] will last only a week, a month, even a year, it would change everything. It would still be a ghastly ordeal, but the worst thing about it — the incessant yearning for death, the compulsion toward suicide — would drop away. But no, a limited depression, a depression with hope, is a contradiction. … [T]he conviction that it will never end except in death — that is the definition of a severe depression.”
We know it can be tough take on any of these depression self help tips when you’re feeling really bad. Also, when it comes to self-help, strategies for feeling better are very individualistic. That is, different things work for different people. Not everyone will want to start doing yoga, for example, so keep trying different ideas even if the first thing you try doesn’t help.
The relationship between these emotions — and their associated clinical conditions, anxiety disorders and mood disorders — is complex and somewhat idiosyncratic. For one person, anxiety can lead to avoidance and isolation, and isolation, in turn, can result in a lack of opportunity for pleasurable experiences and then, low mood. For another individual, feeling down may zap them of the energy to do things they typically enjoy, and attempts to re-engage with the world after being out of practice may result in some nervousness.
Reminiscence of old and fond memories is another alternative form of treatment, especially for the elderly who have lived longer and have more experiences in life. It is a method that causes a person to recollect memories of their own life, leading to a process of self-recognition and identifying familiar stimuli. By maintaining one’s personal past and identity, it is a technique that stimulates people to view their lives in a more objective and balanced way, causing them to pay attention to positive information in their life stories, which would successfully reduce depressive mood levels.
Mental health medication, including antidepressants, are effective in reducing symptoms of depression. They often work well as a supplement to therapy or short-term solution for symptoms that might initially be severe. Nonetheless, even their short-term effects can take two weeks or more to activate. If you are considering mental health medication, consult a psychiatrist, not only a primary care doctor.
Regardless of the medication that treats depression, practitioners have become more aware that both genders, each age group, and different ethnic groups may have different responses and have different risks for medication side effects than others. Also, while there are certainly treatment methods that have been determined to be effective across populations, given the individual variability of response to treatment, there should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
There are various methods you could use to sooth the symptoms of depression. All of us could stand to exercise more often, but exercise is especially helpful for the depressed mind. It enables you to better handle stress, and the endorphins released during exercise give you a mental boost. Aside from the mental health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that physical activity helps you sleep better at night.