Feeling Depressed? When To See a Doctor

Posted by Dr. Ruth González on Apr 3, 2018 4:43:42 PM

The goal in life is to be happy.  Anything that is interfering with your happiness should be attended to.  It is important to take care of your mental health to be able to enjoy the small things in life and be effective in the many roles you play in your family, relationship or workplace.

If when you evaluate your current state of mind you are feeling unhappy, how unhappy do you feel?  Is it something that can be easily fixed, or do you need further help? 

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When It's More Than a Bad Day 

It is important to differentiate between temporary sadness and ongoing depression. 

Temporary 

"I'm feeling depressed today" or "I'm sad today." 

These are expressions of something you might be feeling temporarily.  You may wake up in the morning feeling sad or with lower energy than usual, but still get up and do everything well!  Your future still looks bright, and you know you'll get through it. 

Ongoing

If any of the following symptoms last longer than two weeks, you might have depression: profound feelings of sadness, loss of interest in the things you did before, feelings of despair, consistent insomnia or oversleeping, weight gain or loss, changes in appetite, little hope in the future or life or having someone telling you it will get better and you don't believe them.  In the case of thinking about dying or wishing you wouldn't wake up, seek immediate help by calling 911 or seeking immediate psychological help.  

If your symptoms control everything you do and think, seeking the right help can allow you to take control of your life again.  

The Importance of An Accurate Diagnosis 

If you feel sad or think you might be depressed, the first thing you need to do is find out if the reason for these symptoms is a medical (physiological) situation. If a psychological diagnosis is reached without making sure your physiological health is optimized, the result may be unnecessary medication and side effects.  

A primary care physician can order lab tests to identify if your symptoms are potentially occurring due to physiological imbalances. 

Some of the following altered lab values can cause behavior changes: 

  • Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, or Iron Deficiency
  • Altered Hormone Levels Produced in the Thyroid 
  • Excessive Alcohol Use
  • Unstable Blood Sugar Levels

Medical help including diet changes and or supplements may help normalize these levels.

If lab values are within normal limits, the next step would be going to a psychologist so they can evaluate your symptoms.  In order to reach a diagnosis of depression, you need to have 5 or more symptoms for 2+ weeks that are identified to cause clinically significant distress or psychosocial impairment.  The physical effects of a general medical condition, substance use, or a side effect of a medication must also be ruled-out prior to reaching a diagnosis of depression. 

A Diagnosis of Depression - What Now?

If a diagnosis of depression is confirmed, there is an opportunity to start trying psychotherapy.  Anti-depressants can be a good treatment option; a psychologist will be able to identify if you need a medication and refer you to someone who can help you find one that is effective for you.  Research has shown that the combination of psychotherapy with medication, when needed, has proven to be effective.  

When you treat the reason for the symptoms with psychotherapy, you have a better chance of feeling better faster and minimizing recurrence.  There is no magic solution, so it is important to talk with a professional about the things that are making you feel depressed.  

Think of it this way; your mind is your computer.  If your computer is not working properly, nothing else is going to work properly.  Your emotions control your actions, and your thoughts control your emotions.  For you to be effective with your actions, you need to be in control of your thoughts.  Psychotherapy can help you get back to a place of control and peace with your life.     

Pravan Clinic Support

Our goal is that our members are happy and healthy.  A conversation with one of our doctors could help you rule-out physiological factors and steer you on a path towards effective treatment and renewed hope in the bright future you have to look forward to.  Pravan Health provides psychological services to its members through an in-house clinical psychologist.  Another option to help identify a psychologist is by calling the Puerto Rico Psychological Association at 787-751-7100.

Call us for an orientation at 787.339.2639 or visit our website for more information about what Pravan Health can do for you.

Click here to learn more about how Pravan Clinic can help you

 

Topics: anxiety, depression, diagnosis, help, mental health, support

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