We all have bad days – days when we feel blue – but depression is much more than a temporary rough patch; it’s a medical condition that affects how a person feels, thinks and behaves. People with depression feel overwhelmingly sad. They may also feel irritable or have a hard time making decisions about things. Things that used to be fun no longer are.
Having depression is not a sign of weakness and it’s not something that will go away on its own if you ignore it. A person with depression can’t “snap out of it” anymore than a person with a broken arm can “snap out of it”.
Sometimes, people who are depressed have thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, do the following three things:
- tell a friend or family member
- make an appointment with your doctor right away and tell him or her that it’s because of thoughts about suicide
- call a suicide hotline
The suicide hotline to call in Edmonton and area is 780-482-HELP (780-482-4357).
How do you treat Depression?
There are three main ways of treating depression. Some people find it helps to do all three.
One method is psychotherapy. This involves talking to someone about how you feel, figuring out if there is something in particular that might be contributing to the depression, and learning “tricks” for feeling happier. One type of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioural therapy. It involves replacing negative beliefs and behaviours (e.g. “I’m not good at anything”) with healthy, positive beliefs and behaviours.
Another method is medication. There are lots of antidepressant medications available which act in different ways and have different side effect profiles. If you have bad side effects with one of these medications, just let your doctor know and you can switch to a different one that might have fewer side effects.
The best way to beat depression is to follow the treatment plan carefully. That means going to all the psychotherapy visits and taking medication as prescribed.
A third way of treating depression is to make lifestyle changes that inhibit sad feelings and encourage positive ones. Alcohol and other drugs can have a depressing effect, so these should be avoided. Exercise, sleep and sunshine can make you happy, so a person with depression should do lots of exercise, get plenty of rest and spend time outdoors enjoying the sunshine. Doing things we enjoy can also make us happier, like pursuing hobbies and spending time with people who make us laugh.