How do you deal with Depression?

Depression is something that just comes along with having a chronic illness. And the winter season seems to make it worse because you are not able to go out doors and keep up with the things you like to do. So what do you do to deal with it? What tips do you have for dealing with depression and making your life a little easier this time of year?  A lot of research has been done on his area and there are lots of ideas out there to deal with depression.  So here we go!

For MILLIONS of people living with a chronic illness and depression is a fact of life. According to WebMD Depression is one of the most common complications for those who have a chronic illness. It can be estimated that nearly one-third of people with some type of medical condition will show symptoms of depression. There is really no question why the two go hand in hand. When you have some sort of chronic illness it changes how you live your life, can limit your mobility and just make everything harder.  That Chronic Illness like Lupus can cause you not to be able to do the things that you like to do and can eat away at your self-confidence. Medications taken for said conditions can also have side effects of depression.  So it can some time look like a no-win battle.

Any illness that is around for a long time can trigger depression. In general, the risk of chronic illness and depression gets higher with the more severe conditions. In general the risk of depression is generally 10-25% for women and 5-12% for men, in the healthy population. However, those with chronic illness are at a mich higher risk of depression which a 25-33% risk.  The risk is also much higher for anyone who has a history of depression.

When a person with chronic illness develops depression it often times makes the condition worse.  Especially in conditions that cause pain or fatigue. Depression can truly increase a persons pain and fatigue. When you combine depression and chronic illness may lead the person to isolation. Which then in turn can make the depression worse. It’s a never ending cycle it appears.

If you think you are developing depression what kinds of signs should you watch for? Many times they are overlooked because one might think that what they are feeling is just a part of their illness. People will assume that feeling sad is just part of being diagnosed with a long term illness and are often masked. This leads to the symptoms being treated but not the depression itself. However, BOTH the symptoms and the depression need to be treated.

How can you treat depression? There are many options out there for those who develop or have always had depression. Early diagnosis and treatment can help ease any distress the patient feels, and the risk of complications and suicides. In many cases treatment for depression can improve a persons overall medical condition,  and increase the persons quality of life. As well, as increasing the likelihood of sticking to a long term treatment plan.  When the depressive symptoms a person is feeling is related to an illness or the side effect of a medication. The doctor may need to adjust or change the treatment regimen. When the depression is a stand alone condition it should be treated on its own.  Greater than 80% of those who have depression can be treated with medication successfully, psychotherapy or a combination of both.  The hard part with medications for depression is that they can take several weeks to truly take effect. So it is important that the patient stays in contact with their physicians during that time to ensure all goes well.

Now what can you do to live with depression?  What tips can we provide for you? Here are a few that may help you.

  • Try to avoid isolation. Find ways to reach out to family and friends. If you don’t have a good solid support system work to build one. Your Doctor or Therapist should have a list of support groups or be able to give you a list of community resources.
  • Take the time to learn as much as you can about your condition. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best treatment for your condition. And give you a sense of independence and control.
  • Make sure that you have support from medical experts you trust and who you can talk to openly about any ongoing questions or concerns.
  • If you think that your medications might be bringing you down, talk to your doctor about other possible treatment options.
  • Make sure to have a conversation with your doctor about pain management.
  • It is essential that you try to continue doing the things you have always done. Staying connected can help boost your self-confidence as well as your sense of community.
  • If you start to feel depressed or think you are becoming depressed DONT WAIT. Talk to your Doctor or Therapist as soon as you can.

Resources:

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/chronic-illnesses-depression

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-steps-for-coping-with-a-chronic-condition

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