How Can I Get Help for Depression?


Depression is a mental illness that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness. It’s one of the most common mental illnesses. In fact, over 15 million adults experienced depression in 2014.

It’s also estimated that two out of 100 children and eight out of 100 teens have depression.

Depression can be debilitating for those that experience it. But there are many effective treatments available that can help you manage your depression symptoms.

Keep reading to learn how to find mental health doctors in your area and start getting treatment.

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 you’re 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. Start with these databases:
Anxiety and Depression Association.
Psychology Today
GoodTherapy.org

First lines of treatment

Talk therapy and medication are often used as the first line of treatment for depression.

Talk therapy
Talk therapy involves discussing your problems and how you feel with a trained therapist. Your therapist can help you detect patterns of thought or behavior that contribute to your depression. You may be given homework, such as tracking your moods or writing in journals. This will help you to continue your treatment outside of appointments. Your therapist can also teach you exercises to reduce stress and anxiety, and help you understand your illness.

A therapist can also help you create strategies to identify and avoid any triggers that exacerbate your depression. They can also help you develop coping mechanisms for when you experience these triggers.

Talk therapy may resolve temporary or mild depression. It can often treat severe depression, but not without other treatments such as medication.

Medication

Depression medications are a common part of treatment. Some people use these medications for a short time, while others use them long term. Your doctor will take multiple factors into consideration before prescribing any medication, including:

possible side effects
current health concerns
possible drug interactions
cost
your specific symptoms
Medications that are commonly used to treat depression include:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These typically have less side effects than other types of antidepressants. Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro) all fit into this category.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs. These include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
Tricyclic antidepressants. These antidepressants can be very effective, but cause more severe side effects. They’re often used if you haven’t responded to other medications. These include imipramine (Tofranil) and nortriptyline (Pamelor).
Mood stabilizers or anxiety medications are sometimes combined with antidepressant medication. If you’re seeing a counselor or a therapist who can’t prescribe medications, they can contact your primary care doctor and request the prescription for you.

Alternative treatments for depression.

There are a variety of alternative and natural treatments that are often used to treat depression. These treatments shouldn’t be used without consulting your doctor first, especially if you’re taking prescription antidepressants or other medications.

Some alternative remedies for depression include:

1. St. John’s Wort
2. omega 3 fatty acids
3. acupuncture
4. massage therapy
5. relaxation techniques
6. meditation

Lifestyle changes that treat depression.

Certain lifestyle changes can help you manage your depression. These can be used along with treatment from your therapist to get your best results.

Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs can make a big impact on your depression. Some people may feel temporary relief from their depression when consuming alcohol or taking drugs. But, once these substances wear off your symptoms can feel more severe. They can even make your depression more difficult to treat.

Eating well and being physically active can help you feel better all around. Exercising regularly can increase your endorphins and relieve depression. Getting enough sleep is also essential to both your physical and mental health.

What happens if I don’t respond to treatment?

If other treatment methods haven’t worked for you, more intensive treatments may be used.

In cases of extremely severe depression, people may be hospitalized. This is especially true if they are considered at a high-risk of harming themselves or others. This often includes counseling and the use of medications to help you get your symptoms under control.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used for people who don’t respond to other treatment. ECT is performed under anesthesia, and electrical currents are sent through the brain. It’s thought to impact the function of neurotransmitters in your brain and can offer immediate relief from depression.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is another option. In this procedure, you sit in a reclining chair with a treatment coil against your scalp. This coil then sends short magnetic pulses. These pulses stimulate nerve cells in the brain responsible for mood regulation and depression.

Finding the right treatment.

Sticking to your treatment plan is one of the most important things you can do. It’s easy to get discouraged in the first few weeks of treatment. You may not want to continue. All types of treatment can take a few months before you notice a difference. It’s also easy to feel like you’re doing much better and stop treatment all together. Never stop treatment without consulting your doctor first.

You should feel comfortable talking to your therapist. If you don’t, try switching to a new one. You may have to meet with several therapists before you find the one that’s right for you.

You should also talk to your therapist about your feelings toward your therapy sessions and your overall treatment plan. This allows them to work with you and make changes if your treatment plan isn’t working.

Finding the right treatment is often a trial-and-error process. If one doesn’t work, it’s good to move on. If two or more months have gone by and you’ve stuck to a treatment but don’t feel any relief from the depression, it’s likely not working for you. You should experience relief from depression within three months of starting a medication.

Talk to your doctor immediately if you’re:
depression doesn’t improve after several month of treatment
symptoms have improved, but you still don’t feel like yourself
symptoms get worse
These are signs that your treatment plan isn’t working for you.

Phone numbers and support groups.

If you’re experiencing depression, help is available. A number of counselors and therapists even offer scholarships or sliding scale pricing for those who can’t afford treatment.

Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness offer support groups, education, and other resources to help fight depression and other mental illnesses.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

If you’re experiencing depression, you can call the following anonymous and confidential numbers:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (open 24/7): 1-800-273-8255.
Samaritans 24 Hour Crisis Hotline (open 24/7): 212-673-3000

Don’t be alone help is at hand.

Advertisements

Talking with Boys About Sexual Assault


We should not be surprised by the recent maelstrom of accusations of sexual harassment and assault. It’s a common occurrence, unfortunately, and until recently, one that has been hidden, silenced or even bought off. But times seem to be a-changing – and that’s certainly for the better. We see that there’s strength in numbers as literally hundreds of women and men are speaking out about their experiences of assault. This bravery not only shows adults, some who’ve been living with painful memories for years, that it’s important to stand up to sexual bullies and predators, it’s also teaching our youth that such behavior must not be tolerated.

At this point in time, while the topic of sexual abuse is front and center, unlike any other time in recent history, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk to our daughters. These conversations may not be easy, but they are necessary. What we must not forget, though, is to open up the conversations, not only with our daughters, but with our sons. Our job as parents is to raise healthy, independent adults who are participating citizens in the world. And we owe it to our sons to show them how to be sensitive, strong and respectful when it counts.
Men have a unique responsibility – for it is almost as offensive to know that sexual abuse has happened – and not say anything about it, as it is to be responsible for the actual assault. The silence seems a tacit approval. And if we want to live in a world where we respect one another, women cannot shoulder the burden alone. It’s a matter of changing the culture – what is deemed acceptable behavior. There is no easy way to change this.
There is, unfortunately, often a disconnect between sex and relationships. There is often an unspoken assumption that boys want sex, no matter what. That belief has been accepted and tolerated, not to mention exaggerated in media. Let your son know that it’s good to have a healthy relationship before he engages in truly intimate acts. Set high expectations and let him know it’s ok to want more than just sex. And while it’s crucial he learn to ask for consent, it’s important for him to know he also has the right to offer or refuse consent himself. Here are some tips to help your son understand and talk about sexual assault and truly understand the difference between the two. Help him to:
Define sexual assault. Call it out for what it is. Be clear on what respect means, and how to honor other people’s space, whether you’re in an intimate relationship or just hanging out at school, a coffee shop, or somewhere else. Talk about the role of power and what it means to use and abuse power in a relationship.
Understand consent. Find big and small ways to practice consent. Don’t take food off each other’s plates without asking, and make a direct connection to consent from one circumstance to consent in an intimate circumstance. When you want to enter your son’s room, ask for permission first and say something like, “I’m asking for consent and I am going to listen for your response and respect it.”
Listen to others. Pay close attention to accounts from girls and women you know. Listen – don’t jump to comment but ask questions in a respectful manner. Get comfortable with the language and commit to changing the culture.
Talk to boys and men. Check in and see how your son feels about this topic. Is he uncomfortable? If so, find out why and talk about it. The more you talk, the more comfortable with the topic you will become. And more importantly, the more informed he will be. Help him understand what it is to be of strong moral character as opposed to what can often be painted as a strong man in our pop culture. Help him know that boys and men can be victims of sexual assault as well, and his consent is important.
Be brave. Call out mistreatment of others. It’s easier to look away or laugh along – Especially if it’s a friend or a “cool” or “popular” kid. Role play to help him understand how to be brave, and ask him where he can try to effect change in small ways to practice. Advocate for others. Teach your son to treat others kindly and change the culture literally person by person.
Accept responsibility. You need to take responsibility and show your son that you will stand by him should he falter. It’s far better to learn from a mistake while you’re young and pay the price. If you sweep it under the rug it only reinforces bad behavior.
Identify people he can go to. Your son needs to know whom he can turn to should he need help and can’t or won’t go to you. Who can he call on for help to be strong? Make sure he knows who those people are – ask him frequently in casual conversation.
We cannot change the culture with one conversation, one school assembly, or one article. We need true community intervention. Start the conversation with your friends and neighbors. Avoid casting judgment and ask each other questions. Help kids who are making mistakes and hurting others rather than labeling them and trying to avoid them. All kids make mistakes and when we hold them accountable and help them through it they can learn from the experience. Ask your school to host an assembly and a parent education event, and know this is just the beginning of the ongoing conversation that is so crucially needed. Participate, and model the behavior you expect of your son.

Depression in Teens: The Warning Signs and How to Help Them Through


One of the things that can make depression so difficult to recognise is that the symptoms can be things we all struggle with from time to time – sadness, hopelessness, lethargy, lack of engagement. When these very normal human experiences happen in a combination, duration or intensity that start to interfere with day-to-day life (school, relationships), it’s possible that depression might be waving a heavy hand over your teen.

During adolescence, the rates of depression skyrocket. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the number one cause of illness and disability in adolescents. But there’s something else. Research shows that in half of all adults who have problems with their mental health, their symptoms showed up before age 14. Three-quarters had symptoms by age 24. This puts flashing lights around the importance of noticing when our teens are struggling and making sure they get the support they need. The earlier symptoms are caught, the easier it will be to stop those symptoms expanding into something bigger and more difficult to shift
What are the symptoms of depression in teens to watch out for?
For a diagnosis of depression, a particular cluster of symptoms needs to have been there for at least for two weeks. These symptoms must include at least one of either a depressed mood, or a loss of interest or pleasure in things that were once enjoyable. Many times these will just be a normal part of adolescence and nothing at all to worry about, but if depression is happening, there will be other telltale signs. Here are some to watch out for:
Happiness, anger, indifference – the many faces of depression.
Depression doesn’t always look like sadness or withdrawal. Some of depression’s classic disguises are:
• Anger or irritability.
Depression often comes with lethargy, pain and/or hopelessness. Understandably, this can make people angrier, more irritable or more impatient than usual.
• Happy, but reluctant to spend time with friends or family.
It’s takes a huge amount of strength to move through the day with depression hanging on. If your teen has depression they might use this strength to put on a happy face, but where there is depression, there is also likely to be increasing withdrawal. It’s very normal for teens to withdraw from family activities – it’s part of them experimenting with their growing independence. The thing to watch out for is if they withdraw more from friends and spend more time on their own than usual.
• Indifference.
Depression doesn’t just steal happy feelings. Sometimes it can steal all feelings, which can make people seem flat or indifferent. In teens, it can be difficult to tell whether their indifference is just a normal part of adolescence or whether it’s something more. It’s not at all unusual for teens to seem more indifferent and there’s a good reason for this. Dopamine is the chemical that creates the feel-good when we get something we want, and in teens the baseline levels in the brain are lower than they are in adults or children, creating a sense of flatness. There is a way though, to tell the difference between normal adolescence and depression. Watch out for what happens when your teen does something that feels good or when they get something they want. When adolescents do something that feels good, the dopamine levels are higher than they are in adults, so the feel-good feels better. In depression, this doesn’t happen. There is a constant sense that nothing makes a difference, and the flatness or indifference doesn’t shift even when they are doing something that they would normally have enjoyed
Pulling back from people and activities that were once enjoyable.
Depression takes away the sense of enjoyment from things that were once enjoyable. Watch out for your teen cancelling plans or making excuses to avoid the things they once wouldn’t have missed.
Tiredness, lethargy, exhaustion.
Depression is exhausting and can make people more tired than usual, even if they seem to spend more time sleeping.
Depression hurts, literally.
Depression is a physical illness, so sometimes the symptoms will show up physically. Watch out for unexplained headaches and migraine, stomach aches, back pain, joint aches and pains. Mood and pain share the same pathways in the brain and they are regulated by the same brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine). When the balance of these neurochemicals is out, pain and mood might both be affected.
Giving up on things that are important
The hopelessness, helplessness and lowered self-esteem that come with depression might see depressed teens giving up on school, friendships, or other things that are important to them.
Change in physical movements and speech.
Depression can speed up movement (restlessness, agitation, fidgeting, pacing, leg shaking or hand-wringing), or it can slow down movement and speech.
Fuzzy thinking, difficulty concentrating and remembering.
As well as draining physical and emotional energy, depression can also take a swipe at mental energy. Teens with depression might have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. Slowed thinking might mean they take longer to collect their thoughts, which can show itself as slowed speech.
Isolating from others.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting some alone time, but when there’s a noticeable withdrawal, it might be a problem. This might be because being with people no longer brings joy (because nothing brings joy), or because fatigue, or having to put on a happy face when there is no ‘happy’ to hold it up feels too hard. Depression also has a way ofconvincing even the strongest of minds that they are a burden to those around them and that they are best keeping themselves to themselves.
Change in sleeping habits.
About 40% of young adults with depression have hypersomnia, which is excessive sleeping. Depression can make people oversleep, or wake earlier than usual and have trouble going back to sleep.
Change in eating habits.
Depression can create an emptiness that feels unbearable, and people might turn to food to try to fill the void. Eating habits can also change in the other direction, with people eating less.
Change in grades.
Depression brings fuzzy thinking, low energy and difficulty concentrating. All of this can make studying, listening and learning more difficult. The clue that this is happening will be a change in grades.
Taking more, using more, doing more
Depression is more than sadness. It’s an inability to feel joy. This is confusing and frightening for anyone to feel, and as a way to find relief from that, or to distract themselves from their pain, teens might turn to all sorts of risky or addictive behaviour. They might be driven to do more of what has felt good before, or anything that helps them to feel – something. This might look like drinking, drugs, skipping school, gaming excessively, eating excessively or self-harm.
Self-injury.
All of us can only push down big feelings for a certain amount of time before they start to push for attention. Physical pain and emotional pain share the same pathways in the brain. When emotional pain feels too big or when it stops making sense, self-harming can be a way to find short but needed relief from the heaviness that comes with depression. Teens don’t do this to manipulate or to control the people around them – they wish they could stop too. They do it to make the pain go away.
If you suspect your teen is depressed …
Depression is such a persuasive beast, and it can convince anyone it’s holding onto that nothing will make a difference. This hopelessness is a classic symptom of depression, and the very thing that gets in the way of healing from it. If you suspect your teen might have depression, the first step is getting a diagnosis so everyone knows what they’re dealing with. Depression doesn’t always need medication, but it might. Having the support of a loving adult will be important for any teen who is trying to find their way through depression. If that supportive and loving adult is you, here are some things you can do to help your teen strengthen and heal:
Help them find ways to connect with other teens.
Healthy friendships can be comfort and protection against the messy times that can come with adolescence. The problem can be finding these friends. School isn’t the only source of friendship. In fact, sometimes school friendships can be a huge source of sadness, fear and hurt. If your teen is struggling with friendships at school, it’s easy for them to be drawn into believing that it will be like this everywhere, but it won’t. Explain that school comes with different pressures and different problems that won’t be found in other environments. There will be people out there who would love to know your teen. Their tribe is out there, but sometimes they might have to look beyond the school ground to find them. Encourage your teen to try activities or join groups to expose themselves to people who share a more similar view of the world than the people at school. Some ways to do this are through sport, drama, music, part-time jobs, art classes, cooking classes. This might not be easy – depression drains energy for everything. Point out to your teen that it’s not necessarily about the activity, but about expanding their opportunity to find the people who will love being with them – and for certain those people are out there.
Meditation and exercise.
Recent research has found that depression can be reduced by up to 40% in two weeks through a combination of thirty minutes of mindful meditation and thirty minutes of exercise (treadmill or static bike), twice a week. Encourage your teen to try anything that will get his or her heart pumping. If they’re depressed, they might not be jumping at the opportunity to exercise. It’s part of what depression does, so you might need to be a bit creative – let one of their chores be to take the dog for a walk, take a sibling to the park to kick a ball, or to walk with you at night-time to keep you company. For the meditation part, the Smiling Mind app is a free app that has guided meditations for teens. It’s an easy and no-hassle way to get started with mindfulness, which has been proven by a mountain of research to be helpful with depression.
And while we’re on apps …
A collection of 13 apps developed by researchers from Northwestern University has been found to reduce depression and anxiety by up to 50%.
Keep it real.
Push against the ridiculous ideas of how they ‘should’ look by helping them to develop a healthy idea of what ‘beautiful’ means. The concept of beauty isn’t the problem, the definition is. Our teens are barraged with unrealistic and very narrow versions of what ‘body beautiful’ means. Help them to expand this, and to nurture a healthy body image by pointing out the many different versions of body beautiful that you see. This important for teen boys too.
When they feel heard they feel cared for.
Teens, particularly girls, will connect listening with caring. They might not always listen to you, and that’s okay, but if they feel as though you aren’t listening to them, they might feel as though you don’t care. It’s easy to dismiss their worries or mood swings as part of the normal ups and downs of adolescence – and it absolutely might be – but it’s still important to let them know that you hear them, that you notice them, and that you’re there for them.
Reduce gaming time – let them game with friends.
True, it might feel easier to catch a falling star in a glass jar, but anything you do can make a difference. Research has found that teens who spend more than four hours a day gaming can be vulnerable to depression, but there is a way to turn that risk around – let them game with friends. Boys who spend time gaming with friends, or those who are connected to friends either online or in real life appear to be protected from the depressive effects of heavy gaming. Girls who spend a lot of time gaming and who are socially active online are less lonely and less socially anxious, but they also show lower self-esteem. The reason behind your teen’s gaming is important. Researchers suggest that if it seems to be an attempt to ward of loneliness or to cope with the world, it might be time to step in to reduce the time spent at the console. Otherwise, if it’s a way to socialise or to connect with others, either in person or online in interactive games, there’s less likely to be a need for concern.
Every day say something positive, and find something positive in everything.
Even when teens mess up there’s gold in there somewhere, but they (you) might have to work hard to find it. Whether it’s about the way they come to you for advice or to download, whether it’s the way they learn from their experience, or that they didn’t pick a worse choice – there will be something. Try to say something positive every day, even if they don’t seem to take it in. Depression gives teens plenty of reasons to feel ‘less than’, so it’s important to protect them by pushing back against it whenever you can.
Be available, but not intrusive.
As little people, children turn to their parents for comfort and protection when they scrape against the hard edges of the world. As teens though, they are driven by the very important developmental goal of separating from parents and family. There can often be pressure (from inside of themselves or outside), to deal with things on their own, or at the very least without their parents. This can be tough for everyone. Finding the balance between holding them close and respecting their need for autonomy and independence isn’t easy, but it’s so important. Let your teen know they can talk to you about anything at all. When they do, listen and absorb whatever they tell you, even if it’s shocking. The more they can feel you as a strong, steady presence through their turmoil, the more they’ll trust that you can be there for them, even when things are messy
All of their feelings are okay.
Feelings that don’t get felt or expressed cause breakage. All feelings are valid and they are all okay to be there. It’s never feelings that cause trouble, it’s the way they are dealt with – or not dealt with. When feelings are pushed down or ignored, they’ll sprout little roots and they’ll grow. If teens don’t feel safe enough to feel anything they’re feeling – angry, confused, scared, guilty, jealous – the risk is they’ll cut themselves off from one feeling, then another and another. When they cut themselves off from bad feelings, it becomes easier to also cut themselves off from the good ones.
Be available on their terms.
Depression can be relentless, convincing people that they aren’t worthy of love or worthy of the fight. Your teen might crave company and someone to talk to, but at the same time push everyone away. Anything you can to do let them know that you’re there for them on their terms will be important. Some ways to gently do this are by sitting with them and watching whatever they’re watching on tv, or popping into their room just before they fall asleep – it’s often a time when they’re feeling safe and bundled away from the world, and when they might give you a little window into theirs.
Know their ‘normal’.
There are so many different versions of normal. Your teen’s version of ‘normal’ will change during adolescence, but the more you can get a handle on whatever their ‘normal’ is – feelings, behaviour, habits – the quicker you’ll get a feel for when something is off. This can be particularly difficult during adolescence because they’re changing so much, but trust your instincts. If you’re in doubt, ask. ‘I notice you’re sleeping a lot lately. Do you feel as though you are?’ If they say it’s fine, trust it for a while. If it feels like things aren’t fine, be open to the possibility that you’re absolutely right. Trust your intuition and continue to be gently curious.
You don’t have to fix them.
See them and notice them but remember that you don’t have to fix them. None of us like feeling as though we’re a problem that needs fixing, which is how it can feel when people jump into problem-solving mode, even when it’s done with the most loving intent. Instead, listen with an open heart and an open mind and without judgement. Create opportunities for your teen, but express them incidentally and without expectation. Rather than, ‘You know if you exercised you’d probably feel better,’try, ‘I’m taking the dogs for a walk a little bit later if you want to come.
And finally …
Adolescence is a time of massive change, which can be confusing for teens and the people who love them. Adding to the confusion, ‘normal’ teenage behaviour and signs of a mental health struggle can look the same. Changes in sleep and eating patterns, moodiness, pulling away from family, irritability – these can all be a very normal part of adolescence, or they can be symptoms of depression. It’s important to let your teen pull away when they need to. The push for independence from family and parents is a really important part of adolescence, but it’s also important to stay gently curious, vigilant and available. The more we notice when those we love are struggling, or the more we listen to the heart whispers when something isn’t right, the more empowered we are to respond in a way that can heal and strengthen.