Saturday, November 7, 2009


People who don't suffer from it don't understand what a person goes through that has been diagnosed with depression. I have been diagnosed with depression and I take medication for it. It's not something I can control on my own. It's an illness and must be treated as such. Some people think it's not a big deal but it is a big deal to the person suffering from it. It affects our lives as well as those who are a part of our lives. I have done some research and found some good information about depression. I'm posting it here so that maybe others can understand what it's like to deal with this illness. I think a lot of people with depression are misunderstood by those who don't understand the illness or the symptoms and therefore it is very hard on relationships. I hope to educate more people about this illness.

Thanks for reading

Depression Basics

Some people say that depression feels like a black curtain of despair coming down over their lives. Many people feel like they have no energy and can't concentrate. Others feel irritable all the time for no apparent reason. The symptoms vary from person to person, but if you feel "down" for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with your daily life, you may be clinically depressed.

Most people who have gone through one episode of depression will, sooner or later, have another one. You may begin to feel some of the symptoms of depression several weeks before you develop a full-blown episode of depression. Learning to recognize these early triggers or symptoms and working with your doctor will help to keep the depression from worsening.

Most people with depression never seek help, even though the majority will respond to treatment. Treating depression is especially important because it affects you, your family, and your work. Some people with depression try to harm themselves in the mistaken belief that how they are feeling will never change. Depression is a treatable illness.

Life with depression

Working with your doctor, you can learn to manage depression. You may have to try a few different medications to find the one that works best for you. Your doctor may also recommend that you see a therapist and/or make certain lifestyle changes.

Change won't come overnight—but with the right treatment, you can keep depression from overshadowing your life.

Depression-Related Mood Disorders

Major depressive disorder, commonly referred to as "depression," can severely disrupt your life, affecting your appetite, sleep, work, and relationships.

The symptoms that help a doctor identify depression include:

* constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
* decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
* loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
* a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
* a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning
awakening, or sleeping too much
* restlessness or feeling slowed down
* decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
* feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
* thoughts of suicide or death

If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether you are suffering from depression.

If you are in an immediate serious crisis please contact your doctor or go to your local hospital or emergency room.

Dysthymia is another mood disorder. People who have it may feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two years. They have many symptoms resembling major depression, but with less severity.

Symptoms of depression may surface with other mood disorders. They include seasonal major depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder), postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder has symptoms that are seen with any major depressive episode. It is the recurrence of the symptoms during certain seasons that is the hallmark of this type of depression.

Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms are those seen with any major depressive episode. Often, postpartum depression interferes with the mother's ability to bond with her newborn. It is very important to seek help if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is different from the "Baby Blues", which tend to occur the first few days after delivery and resolve spontaneously.

Bipolar disorder, another mood disorder, is different than major depressive disorder and has different treatments. For more information go to

Causes of Depression

Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you.

Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

* Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in
families for generations.

* Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a
relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can
become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job,
graduating from school, or getting married.

* Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative
outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be
caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).

* Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer,
and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness
and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since
it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases,
depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.

* Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders,
schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with

Who Gets Depression?

Although depression can make you feel alone, 16% of Americans will have it during their lifetime. While depression can affect anyone, its effect may vary depending on your age and gender.

* Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. The higher risk may be due partly to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy.

* Men. Although their risk for depression is lower, men are more likely to go undiagnosed and less likely to seek help. They may show the typical symptoms of depression, but are more likely to be angry and hostile or to mask their condition with alcohol or drug abuse. Suicide is an especially serious risk for men with depression, who are four times more likely than women to kill themselves.

* Elderly. Older people may lose loved ones and have to adjust to living alone.
They may become physically ill and unable to be as active as they once were. These changes can all contribute to depression. Loved ones may attribute the signs of depression to the normal results of aging, and many older people are reluctant to talk about their symptoms. As a result, older people may not receive treatment for their depression.

Antidepressant Medications

More than 14 million Americans, or more than 6 percent of adults, experience depression in any given year. Despite these statistics, depression is not a normal part of life, regardless of your age, sex, or health status.

The good news is that depression is very treatable. Most patients, even those with severe depression, show improvement after they seek treatment. Your doctor will prescribe treatment based on the pattern of your depression, its severity, persistence of symptoms, and history.

Treatment Tips

Antidepressant medications work for many people—they can make you feel better, and can improve or completely relieve your symptoms. But sometimes people have unrealistic fears or expectations about them. Some hope to feel better overnight; others worry that medications will change their personalities in ways they won't like. Both extremes are unlikely. The first step towards getting better and staying better is to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Here are some treatment tips to keep in mind:

* It takes time for antidepressants to work. Although you may start to feel better within a couple of weeks, the full antidepressant effect may not be seen for several weeks. It is important to be patient and give the medicine a chance to work.

* Once you feel better, it is important to keep taking your antidepressant for as long as your doctor tells you to. Continued use, if recommended by your doctor, can help lower your chances of becoming depressed again in the future.

* Although some people only become depressed once, others—especially those who have been depressed before or have several risk factors—may need longer term treatment with medication.

* If you want to stop taking your medication, do so ONLY after discussing this with your doctor.

Like many drugs, depression medications can cause side effects and interact with foods or other medications. Tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have and about other medicines you're using. If you experience drug side effects, contact your doctor right away.

Other Therapies

Psychotherapy, or "talk therapy", in which you and a professional talk about what you're feeling, is a vital tool in the treatment of depression. For people with mild to moderate depression, it may be effective on its own. But many people with major depression do better with treatment that combines psychotherapy and medication.

Some of the therapy approaches used to treat depression are cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, psychodynamic, and group therapy.

There are several types of therapists who work with people who have depression, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Finding the right therapist is an important step on the road to recovery.

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment that is often misunderstood, but it can be effective in cases of extreme depression


Psychotherapy, or "talk therapy", is one of the most effective ways to treat depression. Studies have proven that talking to an expert about your condition can help resolve it. While the results are not immediate, you may find that just expressing what you're feeling can bring some relief.

Short-term therapy has become more common and may occur over a period of 10 to 20 weeks.

Types of therapy

Several kinds of therapy are used to treat depression:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that contribute to depression. People who are depressed tend to think negatively, and cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you how to identify and challenge the negative thoughts. This approach is usually done in short-term therapy, and has been found to be particularly helpful for depression.

Interpersonal therapy looks at how depression can be connected to troubled emotional relationships. Like cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy tends to be a short-term therapy, and has been proven to work well with depression.

Psychodynamic therapy links depression to traumas and conflicts that happened earlier in your life, especially during childhood. It can be a short-term treatment, although it is often a longer process.

Group therapy allows you and other people with depression—or people with the same issues that contributed to your depression—to meet together with a therapist and share experiences. The approach of the group may be any of the ones listed above.

Depression Day by Day

Even after you've learned that you have depression and sought treatment for it, you won't feel better right away. Depression can be frustrating, because recovering from it takes time.

Helping Yourself

Every day can feel like a struggle when you're depressed. Medical care and therapy are the most important steps to recovery. But there are things you can do to help yourself feel better:

* Recognize early signs. It's important to recognize and treat depression as early as possible, which decreases your risk of becoming depressed again. If you pretend the problem isn't there, it's probably going to get worse. You need to watch for the types of events that contributed to depression in the past, and be alert for early symptoms.

* Set realistic goals. You may feel overwhelmed by everything you "should" be doing at home or at work. Try not to be hard on yourself. Remember that depression is an illness and that you can't force yourself out of it. Focus on small, realistic goals to ease yourself back into your work and family routine.

* Do what you enjoy. Even if you don't really feel like it, set aside time to do things that you like. Get together with friends. Take a walk. Go to the movies. Take up a hobby that you set aside years ago.

* Hold off on big decisions. Since depression can color your outlook on everything, it's best to avoid making any big decisions—quitting a job or moving, for instance—until you feel better.

* Avoid alcohol. Although you might think it will help you feel better, alcohol can make your depression worse. Depressed people are at special risk of developing substance abuse problems, and alcohol interacts with many antidepressants.

* Exercise. There's more and more evidence that exercise helps with mild to moderate depression. When you're considering an exercise plan, don't be too ambitious. Find an activity that you like, start slowly, and work up to exercising three times a week or more for 20 to 30 minutes.

Activities for You

Research has shown that physical activity can help people overcome mild to moderate depression. Any type of exercise seems to help. So, to make it easier to get started and stick with a routine, pick an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle.

Remember: People with a medical condition and people who have not exercised much should check with their healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before choosing a routine:

* What physical activities do I like?

If you enjoy dancing, try an aerobics class. If being in the water feels good, do lap swimming or water aerobics. If being out in nature refreshes you, find a park to walk or jog in.
* Do I prefer group or individual activities?

If you crave solitude, try a solo bike ride or an exercise video. If you like company, join a gym, walk with a friend, or take a class at your local community center. If you're the competitive type, a game of tennis or one-on-one basketball may fit the bill.
* What programs best fit my schedule and lifestyle?

If you spend long hours at work, look for a nearby gym to visit before or after the workday. Take a brisk walk on your lunch hour (and get your co-workers to join you).

If spending time with the family is a priority, try exercising together with family members. Someone who works or cares for children at home might try exercise videos or walks around the neighborhood (maybe with the children in tow).

While it's ideal to get 30 minutes of moderate activity most days, you'll also benefit from several shorter sessions throughout the day.
* Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?

See your doctor to help figure out what types of activity will be both safe and enjoyable for you.
* What fitness goals do I have in mind?

Almost any type of exercise can help to ease depression. But aerobic exercise will also aid weight loss and improve cardiovascular health. Lifting weights or doing other resistance exercises will help you gain strength and speed your metabolism. To improve flexibility, do stretching exercises, yoga, ballet, or tai chi.

Remember: People with a medical condition and people who have not exercised much should check with their healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Keeping A Journal

Keeping a journal can be a good way to learn more about your thoughts and feelings. It's not always easy—it can be painful to write about bad feelings—but writing a journal is one of the best self-help methods you can use.

To help you get started, here are some tips, and a sample journal entry.
Tips for keeping a journal

* Instead of just writing about events and happenings, focus on your thoughts and feelings about those events.

* Write for yourself only. This forces you to be honest. (At some point, though, you may want to share the journal with someone. This could be a therapist, or a very trusted friend or family member who can give you feedback.)

* Set the stage for writing. Find a comfortable spot to sit, take a deep breath, and begin. Write for 20 minutes without stopping.

* Write every day, if possible. It may help to write at the same time every day, maybe after dinner or before bed.

* Remember that the way you write doesn't matter. You don't have to use complete sentences, correct punctuation, or any punctuation, for that matter.

* Buy a journal you'll enjoy using, perhaps with illustrations or colored pages. Use colored pens or pencils if you like.

* If you really don't like to write, record your thoughts on a mini-cassette recorder.

Sample entry

"I nearly didn't get out of bed today. The only thing that got me going was the thought that I would get fired if I didn't go to work. Some days, it seems like no matter how hard I try, I can't do anything right and no one understands how I feel. I just feel so very tired, tired to the bone."

Getting Support

Even though millions of people are coping with depression right now, it's a medical condition that can make you feel completely alone.

One way that some have found helpful to work through this feeling is to join a support group. Whether they meet in person or online, support groups offer a place to talk about depression where people can help each other. Keep in mind that support groups are not a substitute for therapy or medical care. They are also different from group therapy, since they aren't led by a professional.

You may know people—friends, family, or co-workers—who don't understand your condition and are unsympathetic to it. Support groups are a good way to learn to deal with the stigma that can come with depression.

Ask your doctor or therapist for the names of support groups in your area. Here are some organizations that either run support groups or can give you information about them.

Note: The Web site contains links to third-party Web sites on the Internet. These links are provided as a service to individuals interested in more information. These sites are not part of the Web site, a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Web site. The content and materials in these third-party Web sites are not produced or endorsed by GSK and may refer to uses of our products that are not recommended by GSK. You should always consult with your physician or healthcare professional before using any GSK prescription product.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(formerly the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association )
730 North Franklin, Suite 501
Chicago, IL 60601-7204
Toll-free: (800) 826-3632

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042
Toll-free: (800) 950-NAMI (950-6264). This is a helpline that offers referrals to local support groups.
Phone: (703) 524-7600
TDD: (703) 516-7227

National Foundation for Depressive Illness, Inc.
P.O. Box 2257
New York, NY 10116
Toll-free: (800) 239-1265
Support group information line: (800) 248-4344

National Mental Health Association
2001 North Beauregard Street, 12th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Toll-free: (800) 969-NMHA (969-6642)
Phone: (703) 684-7722
TTY: (800) 433-5959
To seek a referral online, visit
Online support groups:

Depression Chat

Depression Resources at WebMD

Directory of Online Support Groups

Freedom from Fear Depression

Finding Intimacy

One of the hardest things about depression is that it often makes you pull away from the people who could help you most. Leaving the house to meet a friend for coffee—or even getting out of bed at all—can feel impossible. Your depression may become so overwhelming that it seems easier to be by yourself and let relationships fade away.

But it is almost impossible to get through depression on your own. You must reach out and rely on other people for help, even if you don't think you want to.
Reaching out

A lot of people who are depressed feel self-critical, and may even doubt that their loved ones really care for them. These feelings may be symptoms of depression.

Try to push aside these feelings and talk to the people close to you. Explain what you're going through. Ask them for help. Having someone on your side—someone who encourages you in your treatment or goes with you to doctor's appointments—can make a huge difference in your recovery.
Depression and sex

Try to talk openly with your partner about what you're going through. Even though it may be embarrassing, don't ignore the problem.

Some antidepressants can cause side effects that get in the way of intimacy. While some side effects may lessen with time, your doctor may be able to decrease them by changing your dosage or medication.

Help Someone You Love

When people are depressed, they're not the only ones who suffer. Typically, many of those around a depressed person—friends, family, and loved ones—also struggle with the effects of his or her condition.

Watching someone you love fight depression can be frustrating and frightening. Remember, you can't take responsibility for someone else, and the decision to get help is up to the person with depression. But, there are things you can do.

For many people with depression, a friend or loved one who cares can be their most important resource.
What can I do?

* Learn about depression—its causes, symptoms, and treatments. Knowing about the condition will help you better understand what a depressed person is going through.

* Do what you can to make sure that a person with depression gets medical care. Encourage your friend or loved one to stick with his or her therapy or medication. Offer to go with him or her to appointments as support.

* Be supportive and patient. Listen to what the depressed person has to say.

* Without being pushy, encourage your friend or loved one to do the things that he or she used to enjoy. See friends. Go to the movies. Take a walk.


If someone you know is thinking about suicide, don't ignore it. Do whatever you can to get help for that person. Get in touch with his or her doctor or therapist.
Avoiding burnout

Helping a person with depression can be exhausting and overwhelming. Here are some things to keep in mind that can help both of you:

* Try to get other people involved in helping a person who's depressed, since doing it on your own can be difficult.

* People with depression often resist attempts to be helped. It's okay to feel angry and frustrated, but don't confuse the person you love with the illness.

* Depression isn't anyone's fault. It isn't possible to “snap out of” depression.

* No matter how overwhelmed you feel, take time for yourself.

Online caregiver support:

Note: The Web site contains links to third-party Web sites on the Internet. These links are provided as a service to individuals interested in more information. These sites are not part of the Web site, a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Web site. The content and materials in these third-party Web sites are not produced or endorsed by GSK and may refer to uses of our products that are not recommended by GSK. You should always consult with your physician or healthcare professional before using any GSK prescription product.

Caregiver Support Kit

Depression Caregiver Support

Depression Resources at WebMD

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