Wellness

Depression

You’re not alone

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Steps to start treatment

The first step in dealing with depression is to check in with yourself on how you’re feeling, said Vivian Pender, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association and a clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

“If you spotted a cut on your arm and it was bleeding, what would you do?” Pender asked. “You would take care of it. You wouldn’t ignore it. It’s the same thing with feelings. Don’t ignore them.”

Next, look at the severity of your symptoms. If you feel they’re mild, Pender said positive actions such as talking to friends and family, exercising regularly, or improving your sleep may help.

If these don’t work, Pender recommends a “triage” approach. First, talk with your primary care doctor to rule out any potential medical conditions that may cause depression, including thyroid issues.

Your doctor then can refer you to a mental health professional, who can provide a number of treatment options, including talk therapy, medications or a combination of the two.

If you’re prescribed medication for depression, don’t stop taking it without consulting your mental health professional first, Pender said, adding, “It’s most important not to do that.”

LEARN MORE

If you have depression, a number of resources and organizations are available to help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a series of personal stories on its website, including one titled, “I Have Depression And It’s OK.”

The anonymous author writes, “Depression is not weakness. I know I’m not alone. You’re not alone. We’re all in this together.”

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