Everyone at one time or another has felt depressed, sad, or blue. Being depressed is a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles, or an injured self-esteem. But sometimes the feeling of sadness becomes intense, lasting for long periods of time and preventing a person from leading a normal life. Depression that has these characteristics is a treatable, medical condition. It is a medical problem, not a personal weakness. Major depression is an illness that requires professional diagnosis and treatment.

Common Signs of Depression

  • Sadness
  • Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Stomachache and digestive problems
  • Sexual problems (for example, decreased sex drive)
  • Aches and pains (such as recurrent headaches)
  • A change in appetite causing weight loss or gain
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide or Attempting suicide

Common Causes of Depression

  • Biochemistry (imbalance of serotonin and norepinephrine in brain)
  • Genetics (can run in a family)
  • Environmental factors (continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty)
  • Major, chronic, and/or terminal illness

 Coping With Depression

  • Make a plan of action based on your strengths – keep things in a positive perspective
  • Get adequate Sleep – general rule for healthy adults is 7-8 hrs./night
  • Avoid caffeine and heavy foods right before going to sleep.
  • Avoid Alcohol and/or Drugs – it only intensifies the feelings of depression, can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and can negatively interact with your medication.
  • Spend time with people who care about you and are positive forces in your life.
  • Join a depression support group.
  • Manage Stress Levels by exercising (20-30 mins./day), do relaxing activities, journal, & help others as you can
  •  Eat healthy: a healthy diet can improve the way you feel. Healthy eating increases energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system & thwarts weight gain.

Medication to Treat Depression and Associated Symptoms

  • Anti-Depressant Medication
  • Anti-Anxiety Medication
  • Mood Stabilizer Medication

Tips When Talking With Your Doctor About Medication

  • What are my medication options for my diagnosis and how long will I need to be on medication?
  • What are the side effects of the medication and will they go away over time?
  • Why do you feel that this particular medication will work better than another one?
  • When should I start to feel/see a difference?
  • What can I do to help myself get better?
  • Tell your doctor about: current medications you are on, any family history of MI, any current physical issues/diagnosis, current depressive symptoms, prior experience with taking antidepressants, and any significant life events that could be affecting your depression.

Medication Information

  • Take your medication daily; even when you begin to feel better
  • Antidepressants must be taken for at least 2 to 4 weeks for a noticeable effect
  • Mild side effects are common but often improve after 7 to 10 days
  • Call your doctor with any questions
  • If you have concerns about remembering to take your medications, talk with your WWC team about ideas for medication management
  • Do not stop medication without checking with physician
  • Antidepressants are not addictive

Self Help Books at your Local Library

Feeling Good (Burns, 1980)

Control Your Depression (Lewinsohn and others, 1992)

The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression (Mary Ellen Copeland, 2002)

Ending the Depression Cycle: A Step-by-Step Guide for Preventing Relapse (Peter Bieling and Martin Antony, 2003)