1 Depression Sure, everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're sad most of the time, and it's giving you problems with: your grades or attendance at school/work your relationships with your family and friends alcohol, drugs, or sex controlling your behavior in other ways The problem may be DEPRESSION The good news is that you can get treatment and feel better soon. Clinical depression is a serious illness that can affect anybody, including teenagers. It can affect your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and overall health. Most people with depression can be helped with treatment. But a majority of depressed people never get the help they need. And, when depression isn't treated, it can get worse, last longer, and prevent you from getting the most out of this important time in your life. So... Here's how to tell if you or someone you know might be depressed. First, there are two kinds of depressive illness: the sad kind, called major depression, and manicdepression or bipolar disorder, when feeling down and depressed alternates with being speeded-up and sometimes reckless. You should get evaluated by a professional if you've had five or more of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks or if any of these symptoms cause such a big change that you can't keep up your usual routine... When You're Depressed... You feel sad or cry a lot and it doesn't go away. You feel guilty for no reason; you feel like you're no good; you've lost your confidence. Life seems meaningless or like nothing good is ever going to happen again. You have a negative attitude a lot of the time, or it seems like you have no feelings. You don't feel like doing a lot of the things you used to like like music, sports, being with friends/family, going out and you want to be left alone most of the time. It's hard to make up your mind. You forget lots of things, and it's hard to concentrate. You get irritated often. Little things make you lose your temper; you over-react. Your sleep pattern changes; you start sleeping a lot more or you have trouble falling asleep at night. Or you wake up really early most mornings and can't get back to sleep.
2 Your eating pattern changes; you've lost your appetite or you eat a lot more. You feel restless and tired most of the time. You think about death, or feel like you're dying, or have thoughts about committing suicide. When You're Manic... You feel high as a kite...like you're "on top of the world." You get unreal ideas about the great things you can do...things that you really can't do. Thoughts go racing through your head, you jump from one subject to another, and you talk a lot. You're a non-stop party, constantly running around. You do too many wild or risky things: with driving, with spending money, with sex, etc. You're so "up" that you don't need much sleep. You're rebellious or irritable and can't get along at home or school, or with your friends. Talk to Someone If you are concerned about depression in yourself or a loved one, TALK TO SOMEONE about it. There are people who can help you get treatment: a professional at a mental health center or Mental Health Association a trusted family member your family doctor your clergy a school counselor or nurse a social worker a responsible adult Or, if you don't know where to turn, the telephone directory or information operator should have phone numbers for a local hotline or mental health services or referrals. You can call ASAP at Depression can affect people of any age, race, ethnic or economic group. Having depression doesn't mean that a person is weak, or a failure, or isn't really trying...it means they need treatment. Most people with depression can be helped with psychotherapy, medicine, or both together. Short-term psychotherapy, means talking about feelings with a trained professional who can help you change the relationships, thoughts, or behaviors that contribute to depression. Medication has been developed that effectively treats depression that is severe or disabling. Antidepressant medications are not "uppers" and are not addictive. Sometimes, several types may have to be tried before you and your doctor find the one that works best. Treatment can help most depressed people start to feel better in just a few weeks. So remember, when your problems seem too big and you're feeling low for too long, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There's help out there and you can ask for help. And if you know someone who you think is
3 depressed, you can help: Listen and encourage that person to seek treatment. If your loved one doesn't ask for help soon, talk to someone who can help especially if that person mentions suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: TALK (8255) ASAP: What You Need to Know About Suicide... Most people who are depressed do not commit suicide. But depression increases the risk for suicide or suicide attempts. It is not true that people who talk about suicide do not attempt it. Suicidal thoughts, remarks, or attempts are ALWAYS SERIOUS...if any of these happen to you or a loved one, you must tell someone who can help IMMEDIATELY...it's better to be safe than sorry.... Why Do People Get Depressed? Sometimes people get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major financial problems, someone you love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Other times like with other illnesses depression just happens. Often individuals react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends. This is another reason why it's important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble. Depression and Alcohol and Other Drugs A lot of depressed people also have problems with alcohol or other drugs. (Alcohol is a drug, too.) Sometimes the depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape it. (In the long run, drugs or alcohol just make things worse!) Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression is caused by: the drug itself, or withdrawal from it, or the problems that substance use causes. And sometimes you can't tell which came first...the important point is that when you have both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment, the better. Either problem can make the other worse and lead to bigger trouble, like addiction. You need to be honest about both problems first with yourself and then with someone who can help you get into treatment...it's the only way to really get better and stay better.
4 Be Able to Tell Fact From Fiction Depression is a real medical illness and it's treatable. Myths about depression often prevent people from doing the right thing. Some common myths are: Myth: It's normal for teenagers to be moody; teens don't suffer from real depression. FACT: Depression is more than just being moody, and it can affect people at any age, including teenagers. Myth: Telling someone that a loved one might be depressed is betraying a trust. If someone wants help, he or she will get it. FACT: Depression, which saps energy and self-esteem, interferes with a person's ability or wish to get help. It is an act of true care to share your concerns with someone who can help. Myth: Talking about depression only makes it worse. FACT: Talking through feelings with a good friend is often a helpful first step. Friendship, concern, and support can provide the encouragement to talk to a trusted person about getting evaluated for depression. Reach Out for Help Are You Considering Anti-Depressant Medication for Depression? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Perhaps your counselor has mentioned the option of antidepressant medication to you, or you ve wondered whether this option might be helpful based on something you ve heard, or based on the experiences of friends or family members. This information is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about antidepressants. We hope the information will serve as a starting point for a more in-depth discussion with a counselor and/or a psychiatrist. If you decide to explore the option of medication further, you will want to meet with a medical care professional experienced in prescribing antidepressants. This may be a nurse practitioner, a physician, or a psychiatrist (a medical doctor whose specialty is the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and mental health problems.) A psychiatrist is specially trained in the use of medication to treat depression.
5 List of questions: 1. Shouldn't I be able to feel better without taking medication? Don't other people get through this without medication? Many people will feel better with the help of counseling, and medication may not be necessary at all. However, if left untreated altogether, depression can last longer or even worsen. It can seriously interfere with your ability to study, work and enjoy relationships. Depression also can be a life-threatening illness when there is a risk of suicide. Many people get better without medication, but sometimes medication is necessary to help lighten your mood and help you to function so that you can begin working through other problems. 2. Is there a blood test for depression? The diagnosis of depression is based on the recognition of certain characteristic signs and symptoms affecting your mood state, thinking patterns and physical well-being. At present, there is no blood test that can confirm or eliminate the diagnosis of depression. 3. What is the first step in considering a medication? Stop by the Academic & Staff Assistance Program on 2730 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, Ticon III, 3 rd floor or call (916) Your counselor will evaluate your symptoms and recommend whether depression medication is likely to help you, given your unique symptoms and circumstances. If medication seems like a reasonable option, you will be referred to a nurse practitioner or primary care physician in the health service or to a psychiatrist (physician specializing in antidepressant medications) in the community. 4. How does an antidepressant work? Depression is an illness in which factors such as genetics, chemical changes in the body and external events may play an important role. Research suggests that depression may be linked to changes in the functioning of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Current research focuses on the serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine systems. Certain genetic factors and changes in body hormones also have been implicated in some depressive conditions. These complex biological changes can produce profound changes in your mood and behavior. Antidepressants are thought to correct some of the chemical imbalances present in a depressive illness. 5. What might my doctor ask me to do before prescribing medication? The first step is usually an appointment with a psychiatrist to discuss your depressive symptoms. Your psychiatrist may ask the same questions another professional already has asked you. While you may find this repetition frustrating, keep in mind that questions are repeated so that your doctor can gain a thorough understanding of your symptoms, medical history, medication use, and drug or alcohol use. For female patients it also will be important to discuss issues of pregnancy and birth control use since medication may be potentially harmful to a fetus or nursing infant. Since certain drugs, as well as some medical conditions, can produce depressive symptoms, you also may be referred to another physician for a complete physical exam and laboratory tests.
6 6. How will my doctor choose which medication to prescribe? Antidepressants generally are classified by the chemical properties of the drug and the way in which they are thought to work. Groups of medications your doctor may refer to include: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) or Monamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). Some clinicians may refer to medications discovered in the last 10 to 15 years as "new" medications and those medications that have been available in the last 30 years as "older" medications. There also are mood stabilizers for those with bipolar disorder. Like shoe sizes, not every medication is the right fit for every individual; a medication that worked well for a friend may not be the best match for you. Your doctor will consider your particular symptoms when selecting your medication. He/she also will consider potential adverse effects of medication. The goal of treatment is to effectively eliminate depression with a medication that produces minimal problems or adverse effects. Unfortunately, an "ideal" medication that does not pose some potential problem or risk is not yet available. Side effects generally are mild and decrease with time. Research is focusing on more selective medications for depression that produce fewer and less problematic side effects. It is important that you ask your doctor about any concerns you might have about a medication or its potential side effects. 7. What are the possible side effects of antidepressant medication? Antidepressants are a relatively safe treatment option in otherwise healthy individuals being treated for depression. Like most prescribed (and some over-the-counter medications), antidepressants may cause mild, and usually temporary, side effects in some people. Most of the time, side effects are manageable and disappear over time. Common side effects include nausea, loose stools or constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, nervousness, sleep changes, dry mouth, headache and blurred vision. Some people experience a change in sexual interest or functioning. While more severe problems are less common, they are possible. Your doctor or pharmacist will have information sheets that outline a range of potential side effects. Each time you meet with your doctor for follow-up sessions, she or he will ask about your response to the medication and check for problematic effects. Unusual side effects or those that could interfere with your ability to work or study should be reported to your doctor immediately so that changes in the medication can be made. Most side effects are reversible and gradually disappear after a medication is stopped. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns. 8. How long will it take before the medication helps me? How will I know that the medication is working? All antidepressants take time to work. Don't be discouraged if you don't feel better right away. Therapeutic response typically occurs within two to four weeks after treatment is started, although some people feel better sooner. It is not unusual for your friends and family to notice signs of improvement before you do. When the medication begins to work, you may find yourself increasingly able to accomplish things and enjoy life in a way that is more "normal" for you. If you do not respond to one medication, your doctor may recommend a change of dosage or a change to other medication(s). Each person is unique in his or her response to medication. Treatment of depression is an ongoing process, with your doctor monitoring and "fine tuning" your medication, depending on how it is working for you.
7 9. Is the medication addictive? Will I get "high"? The currently prescribed medications that are approved for the treatment of depression are not considered addictive. Drug addiction implies that you would crave increasing amounts of a substance. While certain medications used in treating unusual forms of depression do have potentially addictive qualities, these medications are not considered standard antidepressants. Although antidepressants are not addictive, you may experience some symptoms that lead you to wonder whether you are getting "high." Early on in treatment, antidepressants may cause you to feel unusually energized, especially compared to your previous state. Feeling "high" or intoxicated suggests an unusual reaction to your medication, an interaction with another medication, complications from drug or alcohol use, or an unwanted side effect. In addition, some patients with bipolar disorder may experience an unwanted episode of euphoria. Should you experience any of these problems, contact your psychiatrist immediately. Antidepressants are not addictive. 10. Will the medication change my personality? Medication will not change who you are as a person, your unique personal characteristics, or your life circumstances. The goal of antidepressant therapy is to allow you to work toward positive changes in your mood state and thinking patterns. Antidepressant medication assists people in experiencing the full range of human emotions without feeling overwhelmed. Although these positive changes may seem like personality changes, most often they are a sign that you are recovering your ability to react to people and situations in a non-depressed way. Sometimes antidepressant medication produces temporary side effects that feel like negative changes in personality. In particular, you may feel less emotionally sensitive or less "intense" than you did before taking medication. In the event that this occurs and is distressing for you, don't hesitate to discuss your concerns with your counselor or psychiatrist. 11. Can I take other medications along with antidepressants? An important question! Sometimes when antidepressants are taken in combination with other drugs, the chances of side effects or drug interactions increase. It is very important to consult with your prescribing physician, particularly about allergy medications. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you use, even over-the-counter or "natural" vitamins and herbal products. 12. Will the medication interfere with my birth control pills? There is no evidence that antidepressants decrease contraceptive protection. However, like other medications, antidepressants are potentially harmful to the fetus if you are or become pregnant 13. How long will I have to take a medication? You and your treatment professional(s) will meet regularly after medication is prescribed to assess any changes and/or concerns and to evaluate how the medication is working for you. Typically, people take antidepressant medications for eight to twelve months or longer. While it often is tempting to stop taking the medication when you feel better, it is important to continue until you and your doctor agree your depression is treated. Stopping the medication early can result in the return of your original symptoms or adverse reactions. You may be asked to gradually decrease or "taper off" the medication. "Tapering off" is particularly important with some medications to give your body an adjustment period.
8 14. Will the depression come back when I stop taking medication? In the majority of cases, depression is an illness that can be effectively treated with medication and counseling. However, there is always a chance that your depression may return once a medication is stopped. Continuing antidepressants and/or therapy for the recommended time period minimizes this possibility. Unfortunately, in a small number of cases, depression reoccurs after treatment is complete. Recognizing the signs of a new depressive episode and seeking treatment early are very important. You should also discuss this possibility with your doctor before ending treatment. 15. Why can't I use alcohol when taking medication? Alcohol itself is an extremely potent depressant. You certainly don t want to feel more depressed! The use of alcohol and drugs can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of a depressive illness. Many depressive conditions are associated with the excessive use of alcohol and some drugs. Using drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of dangerous behaviors, including suicide; or cause complicated interactions with your prescribed medication. In summary, alcohol or drug use can reduce the effectiveness of your treatment, prolong your illness, and increase the risk of negative medication side effects. Alcohol and drugs can make your depression worse. 16. What if I forget to take my medication on schedule? This is something you should discuss with your doctor. In most cases, if you miss a dose, don t take a double dose next time. Simply continue with the next scheduled dose and try not to miss again. If you miss several consecutive doses, you may experience problems such as headache and nausea. Most important, if you often forget to take the medication, your recovery is likely to take longer. 17. How do I tell my family and friends? Often people who care about you already are aware of and concerned about the changes in your mood and energy levels. They may be very relieved you are getting help. Since depression can leave you feeling exhausted or helpless, getting support from others is important. However, many people have never experienced serious depression and may have trouble understanding how disabling it can be. They might not mean to be insensitive or unsupportive, but they may say or do things that hurt. It may help to share this information with those you most care about so they can better understand and help you. 18. If I am taking medication, will I still need counseling? For many people the combination of medication and psychotherapy is the most effective way to treat depression. While medication can help improve depressive symptoms, it can t change events, thoughts or behaviors that are problematic or distressing for you. Even before becoming depressed you may have been struggling with personal or family issues that affected how you felt about yourself and your relationships. Psychotherapy can help you explore and resolve these concerns. Individual and/or group psychotherapy also may be recommended to help you in improve self-esteem, relationship skills and strategies for managing stressful events. Good nutrition, quality sleep and exercise also are important elements of your recovery. To feel better as quickly as possible, consider all the recommendations of your counselor and/or psychiatrist.
9 Site: ASAP offers confidential, cost-free assessment, counseling, consultation and referral services to all UCDHS faculty, staff, and their family members. Whether the problem is work-related, personal, career or relationship focused, ASAP can assist you in evaluating and resolving the problem. You can call ASAP at for an appointment.
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