Talking about your health includes talking about your mental health

It is important for you to tell your provider if you are taking medicine for depression, bipolar disorder or any other mental health disorder. Once they know, they can give you the best possible care. This will result in a better health outcome for you.

What is depression?

Everyone feels sad sometimes. These feelings usually pass after a few days. When you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time. Depression is a serious illness that needs treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or "empty"
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems

How is depression treated?

The first step in getting the right treatment is to visit your provider or a mental health professional. He or she can do an exam or lab test to rule out other conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. He or she can also tell if certain medications you are taking may be affecting your mood.

Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. They can take several weeks to work. They also may have side effects such as headache, nausea, difficulty sleeping or nervousness, agitation or restlessness and sexual problems. Most side effects lessen over time. Talk to your provider about any side effects you may have.

Psychotherapy can also help treat depression. It helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can help you understand and work through difficult relationships or situations that may be causing your depression or making it worse.

How can I help a loved one who is depressed?

If you know someone who has depression, first help him or her to see a provider or mental health professional.

  • Offer support, understanding, patience and encouragement.
  • Talk to him or her and listen carefully.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide and report them to your loved one's therapist or provider.
  • Invite him or her out for walks, outings and other activities.
  • Remind him or her that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.

How can I help myself if I am depressed?

As you continue treatment, gradually you will start to feel better. Remember that if you are taking an antidepressant, it may take several weeks for it to start working. Try to do things that you used to enjoy before you had depression. Go easy on yourself. Other things that may help include:

  • Break up large tasks into small ones. Try not to do too many things at once
  • Spending time with other people and talking to a friend or relative about your feelings
  • Once you have a treatment plan, try to stick to it. It will take time for treatment to work
  • Do not make important life decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well