Are you feeling burnt out? Tense? Sad? You may be having a passing case of the blues. However, if you have been experiencing symptoms for several weeks already, you should perhaps find out the cause of this uneasiness. You might be suffering from the little-known, but dreaded illness that is depression.
Our frantic way of life and eagerness to perform can definitely lead to exhaustion. And worse, if other factors are present, this state of mind can transform itself into depression. No one is safe from this illness, a real condition that hurts, that affects the spirit and the body, and that also has an impact on loved ones. But thankfully, depression can be treated, so it is important to get properly diagnosed and begin treatment quickly to remedy this health problem.
What causes depression?
The most likely cause of depression is, indisputably, an imbalance of certain chemical substances in the brain that act as messengers. Other factors can also contribute to depression, such as heredity, illness, stress, drug or alcohol abuse, and traumatic events. This is why the ideal treatment is a combination of anti-depressive medication and personalized psychotherapy.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, depression is the most treatable mental illness. Once you have the proper diagnosis, your doctor will establish a treatment plan that corresponds to your symptoms and situation.
Antidepressants are medications that act by rebalancing the various chemical messengers in the brain. They are categorized according to the substance on which they act to regulate your mood. In other words, they aim to protect and even increase the amount of “happy messengers” in your brain.
Far from being a sign of weakness, the use of antidepressants is actually a vital tool in the fight against depression. These medications are designed to eliminate the symptoms of depression and will allow you to return to your daily activities and your normal state of mind more rapidly.
Antidepressants can lead to some of the following side effects:
- dry mouth;
- insomnia or drowsiness;
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
- decreased libido.
These side effects are often temporary, and there are many ways to alleviate them. However, if you are worried or have questions, consult your pharmacist; he or she can give you more information and help you find ways to reduce adverse effects, or even suggest treatment alternatives to your doctor.
Being faithful to your treatment: a matter of importance
Sticking to one’s treatment is a fundamental concept that, simply put, consists in being faithful to the treatment proposed by your health professional and playing an active role in it. This is especially important when it comes to treating depression since there is a delay of several weeks before the patient notices the beneficial effects of antidepressants. It is also possible for a patient to have to try different medications, or even combinations of medications, before finding the treatment that works.
Take your medication every day, not only when you are feeling unwell. The peak effect will appear after you take it regularly, on a daily basis. Also, in order to avoid a relapse, you must take antidepressants for several months, even if you are feeling better, and should never stop abruptly. Never cease taking your medication before having spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. If stopping your treatment is indeed appropriate, they will tell you how to do so to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
1, 2, 3, talk!
Psychotherapy is an essential part of treating depression. It offers the advantage of letting you actively participate in your recovery by allowing you to know your illness, as well as various possible strategies to promote a return to normalcy. There are several helpful resources available, so ask your doctor and pharmacist to advise you on the matter.
Because the road to recovery will be shorter if you play an active role in it, here are a few measures to support your treatment:
- Relax and learn to manage stress. Practice yoga, meditation or any other relaxation technique.
- Maintain a healthy sleep routine.
- Get moving! Exercise naturally increases the chemical messengers that are responsible for happy feelings.
- Pamper yourself! Take a warm bath, read a book, get a massage.
- Adopt a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in omega 3 (salmon, tuna, flaxseeds).
- Get some sun; it has a positive influence on mood.
Living with depression
Depression is a real health problem that can have serious consequences on someone’s life. Don’t isolate yourself; surround yourself with people who want to help you. Support will be your best ally. And especially, be patient because recovery requires a bit of time.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it can be easy to forget about taking care of your mental health. But just as you pay attention to your physical health, pay attention to your emotional well-being; take time for yourself and your happiness. After all, health is not only for the body, but also for the soul!
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