DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

FACTORS THAT CAUSE OR CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION
– loss of close relationships or social position
– social isolation
– unemployment and financial problems
– childhood trauma
– drug and alcohol use or withdrawal
– some medical illnesses and medications

WHAT TO DO
– have a check-up to rule out physical causes of depression (eg. anemia, B12, hypothyroidism)
– remember that depression after a sudden loss often resolves on its own over several months
– check yourself for unrealistic ideas about happiness
stay active every day even if you don’t feel like it
– develop a network of supportive relationships
– pay attention to sleep, diet and exercise
– decrease use of drugs and alcohol
– make sure you are getting good medical care if you have a chronic illness

ANTI-DEPRESSANT DRUGS
– anti-depressants can help in severe depression but are less effective in other forms of depression
– anti-depressants take 2 or more weeks to start working
– if there is no improvement after 8 weeks, switching to a different anti-depressant sometimes works
– in most cases, a plan should be in place for coming off anti-depressants after 6-12 months
– when coming off anti-depressants, taper down gradually over 2-3 months to avoid withdrawal symptoms
– see here for more information

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
In case of risk to life or physical safety, call 911 or go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
Crisis services are available at:
Toronto Distress Centres 416-408-4357
Gerstein Centre 416-929-5200
CAMH Emergency Department 416-535-8501

SEE ALSO
On Feeling Depressed
– Overcoming Bad Inner Voices
– The Wisdom of Pessimism
– Losers and Tragic Heroes
– How to Get Over Someone
– How To Get Over Rejection

ARTICLES
– Marketing the Myth of Serotonin, the ‘Happy Chemical’
– A “Severe” Warning for Psychiatry
– Medicating Women’s Feelings
– The Silence of Prozac

 

DEALING WITH ANXIETY

FACTORS THAT CAUSE OR CONTRIBUTE TO ANXIETY
– perceived threats
– fear of losing relationships or social position
– childhood deprivation or trauma
– stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
– drug and alcohol use
– some medical illnesses and medications

WHAT TO DO WHEN FEELING PHYSICALLY ANXIOUS
– understand that anxiety is usually a false alarm based on misinterpretation of danger
– deep breathing (slow exhalation) will usually reduce or stop physical symptoms of anxiety

WHAT TO DO IN THE LONGER TERM
– have a check-up to rule out physical causes of anxiety
– learn to accept some degree of anxiety rather than trying to avoid or suppress it
– challenge your negative thoughts
– take action to overcome avoidance
– identify sources of stress and how to problem-solve them
– pay attention to sleep, diet and exercise
– practice mindfulness and attention-shifting techniques

DRUGS FOR ANXIETY
– all drugs have side effects and should not be used before trying other methods
benzodiazepines relieve anxiety quickly but cause physical dependence if used daily for more than a few weeks
anti-depressants are not habit-forming but take 2 weeks to start reducing levels of anxiety
– when coming off anti-depressants, taper down over 2-3 months to avoid withdrawal symptoms

SEE ALSO
– Why It Is So Hard to Live in the Present
– Why We’re All So Anxious
– The Impostor Syndrome
– How to Deal With a Panic Attack