Not Just Depression

Not Just Depression
Many of us suffer from not only depression, but also anxiety. I remember when I was young thinking, “How can you be treated for anxiety AND depression-—wouldn’t they counteract each other?” Well, they don’t exactly counteract each other, but they do affect one another. This is why it is so important to explain ALL of your symptoms to your doctor. She can’t treat something of which she isn’t aware.

People who have bipolar disorder, as well as many other mood disorders, are often treated with antidepressants. They will usually help the depression, but what about the other symptoms? For those of us who also have anxiety, antidepressants can increase the anxious feelings, jitteriness, sleeplessness, etc. In cases such as these, the anxiety (and/or mania) must also be treated.

So many times, we focus on our depression because it can be so debilitating, but you might not recognize that you’re also suffering from anxiety. Maybe you see the symptoms of anxiety as symptoms of depression. Irritability is a symptom of depression, but how do you feel when you’re suffering from anxiety? Irritable, right?

Before you see your doctor, make an all-inclusive list of your symptoms. Write down everything, even if you think it might not be important. Let your doctor determine what is or isn’t important. If she has all the information, she will be better able to treat you.

There are those of us who suffer from drastic mood swings. We’ve been labeled (drama queen, etc.) and abandoned by people because they don’t understand that we aren’t choosing to be that way. There’s a stigma attached to having mood swings, so we deny it. Many times, we minimize it in our minds because we are ashamed of the way we behave. We might even think we are choosing to feel and act the way we do, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you suffer from dramatic mood swings, don’t allow yourself to feel ashamed. Don’t assume it’s just your personality. Don’t think it’s just PMS. Hormonal changes may aggravate your symptoms, but let the doctor determine whether that is happening with you. You might need to be treated with a mood stabilizer, which is exactly what it says—-a medication which stabilizes your moods. It prevents the extreme mood changes, making you feel more calm and relaxed.

If you have tried several antidepressants and/or anxiety medications without much success, don’t give up. Don’t feel as if you are going to “annoy” the doctor. It isn’t your fault if the medications your doctor prescribed haven’t helped you. Most doctors will tell you that finding the right medications is a matter of trial and error. There are many medications she can prescribe to treat you, but it usually takes a lot of time to find the right “cocktail” for you. Just stick with it and don’t give up.

It is also important to NOT stop taking a medication without talking about it with your doctor first. ALWAYS read the printouts you receive from your pharmacist when you fill your prescriptions. Keep them, and if you begin to have a new symptom, refer back to the printouts to see if it is listed, and notify your pharmacist or doctor. Many side effects will subside after a while, but others can be symptoms of serious conditions caused by your body’s response to the medications. Also, remember that not all of the possible side effects will be listed in the printout. That is why you should write down everything, so you don’t forget, and do not ignore any new symptoms.

If you are one of the millions of us who do need medications, try not to get discouraged if you don’t feel better right away. Remember that it takes them time to get into your system and make changes. But if you’ve been on a medication for a few months and it doesn’t seem to be helping (especially if your symptoms worsen), notify your doctor and, once again, go over ALL your symptoms. It might be time to rethink your diagnosis and try something different.

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