A Prescription for Healthy Living

Although many people mistakenly use the words “sadness” and “depression” interchangeably, nothing could be farther from the truth. There is a major difference between the random episodic bouts of “sadness” and the days, weeks and even months of “depression” that can be so powerful and overwhelming that once can barely muster up enough strength to get out of bed.

Feelings of sadness can result from the death of a friend or family member, a relational problem or break-up, or from raising a difficult child. Depression, on the other hand, can strike from out of nowhere and for absolutely no reason. And unlike feelings of sadness, depression can set up camp in the victim’s heart and mind and stay indefinitely. When doctors talk about depression, they are referring to the medical illness called major depressive disorder. If you have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you will likely have experienced on-going symptoms on on an emotional and a physical level.

Symptoms of Depression

The physical symptoms of depression can be as debilitating as the emotional ones. Physical symptoms of depression include the following:

-Overwhelming feeling of fatigue
-Sleep disturbances
-Problems getting motivated
-Appetite disturbances
-Sexual disturbances
-Gastrointestinal disturbances
-Confusion (common symptom in the elderly)

It is believed that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in which serotonin levels can be either too high or too low. In some cases, depression can be hereditary. Other triggers of depression may include the death of a loved one, divorce, being fired from a job, and illness, to name a few. Certain medicines, abuse of illegal drugs and misuse of alcohol may also lead a person down the path of depression. Note: A person’s depression is not caused by weakness, laziness, or by having a lack of willpower.

If you experience any of the above symptoms of depression on an on-going basis, it is important that you speak with your doctor. Don’t assume that he will be able to know you are depressed simply by looking at you. While some people have a difficult time articulating how they feel, it is vital that you at least discuss your symptoms with your doctor so that he or she can point you in the right direction regarding a treatment plan. The sooner you seek help the sooner you will find yourself on the road to recovery.


Depression can be treated in a number of ways, including counseling and medication. Antidepressants are the class of medication generally prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Antidepressants work to restore balance to the chemicals in the brain. Antidepressants do not work the same for everyone. Some people may experience certain side effects to a particular medication. You may notice that you are feeling better after only a week, but you won’t experience the full effect of the medication until you hit the 8-to- 12-week mark. While you may begin to feel better after taking the medication for a week that does not mean you are better or you are cured–it simply means the medicine is beginning to take effect. The amount of time you remain on an antidepressant depends on how your depression is responding. After a few months you may feel that talk therapy has helped you to sort out your emotions and you are ready to come off your medication. Others may require more time on the medication to deal with their depression.

Counseling is generally recommended for those people who suffer with mild to moderate forms of depression. Sometimes, however, counseling, even for those with minor depression, may not be enough and he or she will be prescribed an antidepressant. The combination of medication and therapy is an effective way to treat more severe forms of depression.

In a therapy session, you will spend 30 to 45 minutes talking with a licensed therapist or counselor about the events that have lead you to this particular point in your life. Talk therapy is an effective approach to digging deep and unearthing baggage that may have been buried years ago that is affecting your life today. Most insurance companies will cover between eight and 20 visits with a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist per year.

Tips To Getting Through Your Depression

• Set realistic goals for yourself.
• Do not entertain negative thoughts as they are a part of the depressive mindset.
• Find an activity that you like to do.
• Do not make major life decisions while you feel depressed.
• Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs as these can make depression worse.
• Exercise four to six times a week for at least 30 minutes per workout.


People who suffer with depression may sometimes have thoughts of suicide. If you ever have any thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else, tell someone: your doctor, a friend, a family member, or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Take your life back today. Call your doctor if you believe you have major depressive disorder and start living again.

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