DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

FACTORS THAT CAUSE OR CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION
– loss of relationships or social standing
– social isolation
– unemployment or financial problems
– childhood deprivation or trauma
– drug and alcohol use
– some physical illnesses and medication

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

DIET AND EXERCISE
– the benefits of exercise on mood is greater than medication in many cases
– foods that can contribute to mood problems include sugars and processed foods
– supplements useful in depression are B vitamins, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids

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 effects
– see here for more information about anti-depressants

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


DEALING WITH ANXIETY

Anxiety tends to manifest as a mixture of:
– physical symptoms related to fear and panic
– mental symptoms related to worry and rumination

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

WHAT TO DO WHEN FEELING ANXIOUS
– understand that anxiety is often 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
– pay attention to sleep, diet and exercise
– identify sources of stress and how to problem-solve them
– challenge your negative thoughts
– take action to overcome avoidance
– practice mindfulness and attention-shifting techniques
– learn to accept some degree of anxiety rather than trying to entirely eliminate it

DRUGS FOR ANXIETY
– all drugs have side effects, so other methods of dealing with anxiety should be tried first
– 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