Should You Worry About Antidepressant Withdrawal
No, but its easy to see why some people might think so, because of a medical condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome , which can occur if you abruptly stop taking medication rather than tapering off as is generally advised. ADS is marked by a wide range of responses, including but not limited to flu-like symptoms, insomnia, worsening mood, and stomach distress, according to a March 11, 2019, report in Psychiatric Times.
Current estimates are that about 20 percent of patients whove taken an antidepressant for at least a month will experience ADS symptoms if they abruptly stop their medication instead of lowering their dose gradually. Tapering under the care of a doctor can prevent ADS by allowing the brain to adjust to changes in neurotransmitter levels.
More to the point, while you should slowly stop your antidepressant with the help of your doctor, antidepressants do not cause dependence and withdrawal like other substances. Unlike substances that are known to cause addiction, such as alcohol, opioids, and barbiturates, people don’t crave antidepressants. You dont get high from them, and they arent intentionally or compulsively overused. Serious reactions like the seizures and agitation that can follow sudden withdrawal from addictive substances are unheard of when these antidepressants are tapered gradually, note the authors of the Psychiatric Times report.
How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
Still Trying To Belong
Ive had a lot of experience being by myself. Ive moved away from my friends and family and lived in three different provinces for extended periods of time. After graduation, I left on what I thought would be an adventure to begin my studies and a career in agriculture. Within a short time, the loneliness became overwhelming.
Im a very independent person, but that doesnt mean I dont need people in my life. One thing I dont think Ill ever get used to is eating at restaurants by myself. Im not a very outgoing person, so just entering a restaurant alone is incredibly difficult for me. I usually pretend not to mind and just focus on my cellphone, but eventually I have to put the phone down and acknowledge the fact that Im eating at a table with no one sitting across from me.
It isnt only in restaurants. A close friend once texted me while at an airport, explaining how odd it was that she felt alone in a crowd of people. I dont think I told her, but I remember thinking about how often I get that same feeling. She went on to say, there are people all around me, interacting with each other, having fun together: but Im sitting here alone.
There are people all around me, interacting with each other, having fun together: but Im sitting here alone.
These issues can be hard to face. If youre considering harming yourself or others, please read this!
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Some Suggestions For Your Visit
There are things you can do to get the best out of your visit to a health professional:
- When making the appointment, ask if you can have extra time to talk with your doctor
- List the signs and symptoms youve been experiencing
- Consider taking a friend or whnau member with you for support
- List the things youve tried that have or have not helped
- Let your doctor know if youre on any other medicine or treatments
- If your current treatment doesnt seem to be working, ask to discuss another approach
- If youre not satisfied with the help from your health professional, consider changing to another one.
Do You Want To Talk About It Im Here When Youre Ready
You cant force someone to talk but knowing youre available can really help them feel supported.
If they havent been forward with you about their depression, you may want to mention youve noticed theyre having a hard time and youre there if they want to talk. If you simply ask, Are you OK? they may be used to pretending and reply Im fine.
If theyre not ready to talk now, remind them youre here for them when theyre ready. They may remember your offer and come to you when theyre having a hard time and need someone to talk with.
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Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
How Is Depression Syndrome Diagnosed
Everyone may feel sad or down from time to time. However, clinical depression has more intense symptoms that last two weeks or longer.
To determine whether you have clinical depression, your healthcare provider will ask questions. You may complete a questionnaire and provide a family history. Your healthcare provider may also perform an exam or order lab tests to see if you have another medical condition.
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Know That Today Isnt Indicative Of Tomorrow
Internal emotions and thoughts can change from day to day. Tracking experiences through journaling or keeping a mood diary can help to remember this.
If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you havent lost tomorrows opportunity to try again.
Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be less difficult. Try to look forward to tomorrows fresh start.
Why Teen Girls Are More Likely To Grow Depressed
There isnt a clear reason why there has been such a dramatic rise in depression among teen girls. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suspect it may be due to a greater degree of depression risk factors.
Girls may be more susceptible to cyberbullying, for example. Studies show girls use smartphones more frequently and intensely than teenage boys. And problematic mobile phone use has been linked to depression.
In a 2014 study published in Clinical Psychological Science, researchers discovered teenage girls were at a higher risk of depression than boys because of the way girls are socialized. They may experience more disagreements with friends and there may be hostility among their peers.
They may also be encouraged to talk to their friends about their problems more. But rather than find solutions, their ongoing discussions about their problems may cause them to ruminate on the bad things in life.
It’s normal for teenage girls to be a bit narcissistic at times. Consequently, teen girls may take things may personally or be extra offended by the behavior of others.
This is normal and should get better with maturity. But in the meantime, it can increase your daughter’s risk of depression.
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Remind Them That They Matter
A common feeling among those who are depressed is that their lives don’t matter and no one would even care if they were gone. If you can sincerely tell your friend about all the ways that they matter to you and others, this can help them realize that they have value and worth.
Letting them know that they are an important person in your life can mean a lot when someone is struggling with feelings of depression and worthlessness.
Depression Statistics: Disturbing Trends Helpful Treatment
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who, like Kashuk, know exactly what it means to be depressed. An estimated 17.3 million, or 7 percent, of adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, making it one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States.
Whats more, a recent report from Mental Health America, a nonprofit founded in 1909, offers startling statistics pertaining to one of depression’s most disturbing symptoms: thoughts of suicide.
According to its 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, suicidal ideation among adults increased by 0.15 percent between the 2016-2017 calendar year and the 2017-2018 calendar year, the most recent years for which statistics are available.
There is a bright side. Although there is no one-size-fits-all cure for depression, there are many effective treatment options, one of which is bound to help you heal if youre struggling with the illness. This cannot be emphasized enough, given that roughly two-thirds of people living with depression do not receive the care they need, according to a report in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, published online February 22, 2019.
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Depression Therapy: Preparing For Your First Appointment
It’s not always easy to open up about your personal issues with someone. So be prepared. Before you first see your doctor or therapist, think about what you’d like to talk about. Consider your goals. Go in with information and questions.
Here are four key ways to prepare.
1. Write down questions.
Come up with some specific things you want to ask. Don’t assume that your doctor will tell you everything you need to know.
For instance, you might ask your doctor:
- Do I need medicine for my depression?
- What kind of medicine will you prescribe?
- What are the side effects and risks?
- How often do I need to take it?
- How quickly will it work?
- Will any of my other medications, herbs, or supplements interact with this medicine?
You could ask your therapist:
- What kind of approach do you use? What will our goals be?
- What will you expect of me? Will you give me specific assignments to do between sessions?
- How often will we meet?
- How do we decide whether therapy will be short-term or long-term?
How much does each session cost, and what is your policy for cancellations or missed appointments?
2. Keep a log or journal.
Keeping track of your mood changes in a diary can be helpful to you, your doctor, and your psychologist or therapist. Just jot down a few lines each day. In each entry, include:
- How you’re feeling that day
- Your current symptoms
- Any events that might have affected your mood
- How much sleep you got the night before
- The exact doses of any medicines you took
Bringing Someone With You
First, youll want to decide whether to go alone or bring someone with you. Is there a family member, friend, religious leader, or other community member who would make a good partner during your appointment? If so, it might make sense to ask that person to go with you.
The benefits of bringing someone with you include having someone there to speak if you have trouble remembering things or tend to freeze up as well as having a second set of ears if you feel as though you will be overwhelmed during the appointment.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Depression
What not to say
Just remember: Advice isnt the same as asking for help. If they ask for your advice, give it if you so choose. But dont offer them helpful solutions or statements that seem like a cure for their depression. This can feel judgmental or not empathetic.
- Just think happy thoughts. I dont understand what you have to be so sad about.
- Everything will be OK, I promise.
- I cut out sugar, and I was cured! You should try it.
- You just need to snap out of this.
- So many people out there are worse off than you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers free and confidential support to those in immediate emotional distress. The hotline provides suicide prevention resources as well as access to local crisis centers.
You dont have to be actively thinking about suicide to use this service anyone in emotional distress can call and use their services.
Lifeline Chat is an online chat that provides a direct connection to counselors for support.
For hearing impaired services, call 800-273-8255 or use the chat services.
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How To Find Treatment Near You
The first step in getting treatment for depression is making an appointment with your general practitioner. They can recommend doctors in your area.
If youre religious, ask your religious leader if they have counselors to recommend. Some people prefer faith-based counseling, which incorporates their religion into a treatment plan.
You can also check healthcare databases for therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors. These databases can provide you with information such as certifications, accepted insurance providers, and reviews left by other people. You can start with these databases:
Who To Talk To About Depression
Depression is a relatively common yet treatable mental health condition.
Doctors treat depression with various medications and therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Up to 90% of people with depression respond to treatment and gain relief from some of their symptoms.
For most people experiencing symptoms, the first step is talking to a primary care doctor.
The doctor may conduct a mental health screening to learn more about the individuals mental health. After performing a physical exam to evaluate a persons overall health, they will ask questions about the persons feelings, mood, behavior patterns, and any other symptoms they are experiencing.
Depending on the individuals symptoms, a doctor may refer them to a mental health specialist.
Common types of mental health professionals include:
Finding the right mental health professional can be a challenge. A persons primary care or family doctor should be able to provide a referral or recommendation to a suitable psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor who will meet their needs.
Various other resources can also help a person find a doctor, including:
An individual should consider various factors when looking for a mental health professional to help with depression. These include the following:
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How Do Doctors Test For Depression
To assess your symptoms of depression, a clinical interview is conducted by a professional, such as a medical doctor, licensed mental health therapist, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner. The test usually includes gathering information from you about the depression symptoms youâre experiencing.
Providers may also choose to utilize a variety of different psychological measures, like the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 , the Beck Depression Inventory , or other similar forms.
You Can’t Concentrate Or Focus
Forgetting work deadlines or when to pick up your kids from a playdate? Feeling like your mind resembles an out-of-focus photo, and the fuzziness has made a dent in the way you weigh choices and make decisions? That’s your brain on depression. Being preoccupied with thoughts of sadness and emptiness can plunge you into a head fog that affects your job, memory, and decision-making skills, said Wolkin. In turn, that unfocused thinking can lead you to make poor choices or take on unhealthy, risky behavior.
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Consider Age And Maturity If Youre Explaining To Children
It may not be necessary to explain depression to young children, Rosmarin says. They may not be aware of changes in your mood or behavior. Older children and teens, on the other hand, may have questions.
How much explaining is appropriate will probably depend on how mature your child is. If you are co-parenting, your partner may be the best person to explain that youre having a hard time. If you are the sole parent, its okay to say, I want to be there for you more than I am able to right now. Its not because of you.
The important message to convey is that your struggles are not your childs fault.
Its important to keep your expectations in check, Rosmarin says. Not everyone has to understand depression. Think about what its going to be like if they dont.
He suggests these strategies for coping when mutual understanding doesnt happen right away:
- Know who your allies are.
- Create new allies if you need more support.
- Reach out to someone who has been through it before.
If understanding and support are in short supply from those closest to you, consider exploring resources in your faith community or in a support group.