Trying to fix a sick brain with a sick brain is a bad idea; so don't be tempted to self-diagnose or self-medicate. Below is a list of steps that will help you determine whether you have signs of depression.
- Assess whether you're suffering some (or all) of the typical symptoms, which include: feelings of low self-esteem; a loss of libido; persistent feelings of sadness, apathy, or hopelessness lasting more than two weeks; diminished interest in most daily activities (particularly pleasurable ones); decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss; increased appetite and weight gain; lack of sleep (insomnia), frequent waking throughout the night (particularly in the early mornings) or conversely, an increased need for sleep; anxiety; diminished ability to think or concentrate; irritation and frequent outbursts of anger; suicidal thoughts.
Make an appointment to see your family doctor, who may confirm or rule out depression as a diagnosis. He/she will likely refer you to a suitable, reputable psychiatrist. It is far better to be treated by a specialist from the get-go, as many family doctors have a relatively superficial understanding of mental health issues. Rather see a specialist with expert knowledge and experience.
When it comes to drug treatment, rely on the advice of your psychiatrist, not rumors. Depression is common, and many people have misconceptions about the available treatments. Antidepressants are not addictive. Most drugs have some side effects, but just because a coworker of yours suffers dizziness or nausea, doesn't mean you will. Each person reacts differently to medications.
Your psychiatrist will likely prescribe an antidepressant, to be taken for a minimum 6 to 8 weeks. Don't expect to feel better within days. Some can work fairly quickly (10 - 14 days) but most take a little longer. Persevere.
Don't despair if the first drug you try doesn't work, or only makes you feel marginally better. Drug-resistant depression is quite common, but usually temporary. It's important to realize that your body is unique - it's a case of finding the right medication for you.
Important! If you don't feel you're getting the best care possible, ask your family doctor for another referral. Your psychiatrist is there to support you, and if you aren't comfortable with him/her, it's best to find someone else. Mental health issues are very personal, and if you don't trust or like your psychiatrist, you're doing yourself a disservice by continuing to see him/her.
Consider therapy. Depression can distort the way you see reality, particularly when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Talking to someone once a week can be extremely beneficial. Not only does it allow you to verbalize how you're feeling, but it can give you perspective on situations developing as a result of your depression (for example judgmental behavior from your spouse or boss).
Find a friend to talk to who has suffered depression. Talking to people who have never suffered depression is usually a frustrating and disappointing experience. You may meet with judgment and condemnation. The last thing you need to hear right now is "Pull yourself together." On the other hand, someone who has been in your position will recognize that you can't do that. Depression is not mind over matter. A sympathetic ear will help you cope better.
Routine is important for sufferers of depression. Try getting up at the same time each morning, no matter how tired you may be. A "to-do" list can help structure your day better. Again, it is common to feel overwhelmed, indecisive and unsure of what to do next. Take your list, start at the top, and work your way down. At the end of the day, look at what you've achieved. Even two out of ten items should be considered a success. After all, you could've stayed in bed all day and done absolutely nothing!
Lastly, you may feel overwhelmed at times. Try to remember that you won't always feel like this. You need to hold on, ride out the bad days, and know that the day will come when you'll be feeling "normal" again. Try not to think too far into the future, which undoubtedly looks bleak. Rather concentrate on getting through today one hour at a time, if need be.