DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION
– depression is not a single condition and does not have a single cause
– anxiety and depression are closely related and frequently overlap
– physical causes of depression (drugs, alcohol, illness) should be ruled out first

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

WHAT TO DO
– have a check-up for possible medical causes of depression (eg. anemia, B12, hypothyroidism)
– remember that depression after a sudden loss often resolves on its own over several months
– recognize the basic human need to be with others and to feel loved
– pay attention to sleep, diet and exercise
– limit use of drugs and alcohol
– ensure good medical care if you have a chronic illness
– develop a network of supportive relationships instead of relying on one person
stay active every day (even if you don’t feel like it)
– check yourself for perfectionism and unrealistic ideas about self-esteem
– check yourself for ineffective problem solving due to rumination
– practice mindfulness and attention-shifting techniques
– reconsider your goals and values as you begin to feel better

DRUGS FOR DEPRESSION
– anti-depressants can help in severe depression but are less effective in mild to moderate depression
– anti-depressants take 2 or more weeks to start working and should usually be stopped after 6-12 months
– when coming off anti-depressants, taper down over 2-3 months to avoid withdrawal symptoms
– see here for precautions and side effects of anti-depressants
– see here for controversies about anti-depressants

SAFETY PLAN FOR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
– if you are having suicidal thoughts, use crisis services:
Toronto Distress Centres 416-408-4357
Gerstein Centre 416-929-5200
– if suicidal thoughts are uncontrollable, call 911 or go to an Emergency Department:
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