10 Things You Can Do This Month to Manage Your Depression

Depression treatment can make a big difference, but it has to be managed. Many people with depression lack the motivation to pull together an effective treatment program, so if you feel like you’ve been thrashing around and getting nowhere, these suggestions might help you get on the right track.

1. Assess your level of satisfaction with your doctor. Your doctor is a crucial element of successful treatment. Are you happy with yours? If you haven’t made progress, is it because your doctor doesn’t seem really engaged in your treatment? If you have a doctor who doesn’t listen to you, respect your right to ask questions and doesn’t seem to really care whether your depression is successfully treated, then it’s time to move on.

2. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time for your next doctor visit. This is a good idea anytime you go to visit a doctor, but especially with depression, given how fuzzy it can make your thought processes.

3. Learn how to fight your insurance company when they deny claims. I put a lot of what I learned working at an HMO into 10 Tips for Overturning Denied Health Insurance Claims.

4. Find a therapist and/or depression support group. Have you been avoiding that aspect of depression treatment? You might not be comfortable with it – maybe it seems too touchy-feely, or you’re not really good talking to a stranger or group about your problems, but therapy is a very effective treatment for depression, both in combination with medication and on its own.

5. Educate yourself about depression in general and your diagnosis in particular. You may think you know a lot about depression, but to be honest, I’m still learning about it after twenty years. If you were diagnosed fifteen or twenty years ago, you might want to ask your doctor to take another look. There are a lot of different subtypes of depression, and some of them have only gained acceptance in the last decade or so.

6. Learn more about your medication, including side effects and contraindications (conflicts with other medications or substances). Make sure you note side effects like depletion of vitamins or minerals. If found out recently that some antidepressants can deplete your Vitamin D and folic acid.

7. Treat herbs and supplements with as much caution as medication, if not more, since they aren’t regulated. Before taking them, research contraindications and side effects and talk to your doctor. Many people think of herbs and supplements as completely natural and harmless, but even vitamins can be toxic in large doses. An herb like St. John’s Wort can cause problems when taken with medicine or other herbs.

8. To ensure that you don’t run out of your prescription. Note on a calendar when you need refills. I get my prescriptions by mail, three months’ worth at a time. What’s really handy is that I can go online and see which I can re-order, and also have the company contact my doctor when I’m out of refills.
9. Get some exercise. Exercise can give not only long-term benefits in fighting your depression, but you also get an immediate boost in mood.

10. Eat a well-balanced diet and stay away from lots of caffeine and foods with a lot of sugar and/or carbohydrates. The crash you ultimately get after consuming these can make your depression worse.

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