Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression

A lot of people have been talking about depression this week in the wake of Kate Spade’s suicide.  Her husband  said she was trying to get help – but she was still suffering.  I don’t know what kind of treatment she was undergoing, but I was saddened to see her to join the list of people who we have lost to depression over the years.  Please know that recovery is possible –  although while you are depressed, you may feel that it isn’t.

Depression isn’t something you can just “snap out of” but there are things that you can do to help yourself.  Since one of the symptoms of depression is decreased energy, it can be overwhelming just thinking about making a change – so start with one and go from there.

Self-care tips for depression

  • Look after your body and your brain
    • participate in physical activity for 30 minutes a day – go for a walk outside if you are able
    • eat healthier meals – avoid foods high in sugar/carbs that can contribute to mood and energy swings
    • avoid alcohol and recreational drugs – alcohol can actually cause depression, people coming off of meth/stimulants can frequently feel depressed
    • sleep in your bed – not in front of the t.v.
  • Find a sense of meaning
    • volunteer
    • talk to your spiritual leader or someone from your worship community
    • journal,  make a gratitude list
  • Decrease your stress
    • postpone any major decisions you can until after you aren’t depressed
    • keep with your daily routine – small things like getting up and making the bed and taking a shower can help – and you may feel worse if you don’t do them
    • allow yourself to leave work at the end of the day and take your weekends/holidays
    • do yoga, meditate, pray
    • do something creative – draw, play music, write poetry, short stories – to get your emotions out – you don’t have to show anyone what you have done
    • spend time with your pet
  • Connect with the community you already have – stronger connections can help you get well faster
    • participate in activities you are invited to even if you don’t feel like it
    • do an activity with a friend you haven’t connected with recently – go get a coffee, go for a walk or swim
    • schedule things in advance instead of waiting to see what you feel like doing – if you are depressed, you may not feel like doing anything

Treatment for Depression

If you have been dealing with symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks and things aren’t getting better or if your symptoms are severe, talking to your doctor can help get you connected with the help that you need.  You can go for counseling, take medications  (or both) to get relief while you continue the self-help tips I have listed above.  If your depression gets worse and you are thinking about hurting yourself – please reach out and call the Suicide Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Depression  can make you feel isolated  – in part due to symptoms of the disease, as well as the social stigma that may go along with it.   You may find community from joining a small group at your place of worship, or through something like Meetup.  If you want to connect with others who are dealing with mental health problems, there are organizations that help with that too.  Groups like NAMI are designed to help people  (and their families) find a community that understands what they are dealing with.  In the Greater Cincinnati area, there is both a Northern Kentucky and a Southwest Ohio NAMI group.  Another agency in Northern Kentucky that provides peer and family support is Mental Health America.

I don’t recommend that you take much time off of work and stay at home if you are depressed.  I have found that the isolation that people feel staying at home and the lack of routine that comes with taking time off, can actually make people worse instead of better.  If your depression is severe – but not bad enough to be in the hospital, participating in a structured program like partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment  can help.   Depression is a medical condition and you can qualify to take time off for treatment if you are covered under FMLA.

The most important thing to remember is that there is hope.  Depression is treatable.  And, you are not alone.


***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.


Suicide Prevention Week

Suicide Prevention Week

This week is suicide prevention week. It is hard for people to ask for help when they are depressed frequently, even harder when they are suicidal. Depression has a way of twisting people’s thinking when it gets really bad. People can convince themselves that loved ones are actually better off without them. Friends and family often sense their suffering but are at a loss of how to help, or those suffering may still put on a good outward show while not giving off clues to their true feelings. People may not ask someone who is depressed if they are having thoughts about suicide because they are afraid they will put those thoughts in their head, or sometimes because they don’t really want to believe that things are that bad and they don’t know how to help.

The first step to preventing suicide is to realize that depression is a medical condition that has treatments. Treatment can be with counseling or medication or with a combination of the two. Counselors or psychologists typically provide the counseling and family physicians or psychiatrists typically prescribe the medications. However, sometimes in a moment of crisis someone may not be able to get an appointment to be seen soon enough and it is hard to know where to turn.

The next step is to realize that asking someone if they are suicidal, doesn’t cause them to become suicidal.  It is important to have an idea of what to do if someone reveals to you that they are feeling this way and to have an idea of possible signs to recognize that someone is feeling this way.   It is also important to realize that just because someone doesn’t ask for help doesn’t mean they don’t want it.  Frequently people may not actually want to die, they may just want the pain to go away.

The following are some signs that people may show if their depression has reached the point where they are feeling suicidal:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Putting affairs in order and giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends
  • A mood shift from despair to calm

The following are risk factors for suicide:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation.
  • Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation.

If you or a loved one you know is having serious thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else –  this is a psychiatric emergency. The same way I would ask you to go to the ER if you think you are having a heart attack to be seen, I recommend that you either call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or if you are in Northern Kentucky you can call North Key’s ACCESS 24hr emergency hot line 859-331-3292 for emergent help if you are having a psychiatric emergency. People can also call a suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact a suicide text hotline by texting “Connect” to 741741.

For more information you can also read more on sites like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or NAMI or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Help is out there.  There is hope.  Things will get better.  You are not alone. 

#BeThe1To  Ask. Keep Them Safe. Be There. Help Them Connect. Follow Up.


***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.


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