alt.support.depression FAQ Part 2 of 5

Image: The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse Part 2 of 5
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**Causes** (cont.)
– What initiates the alteration in brain chemistry?
– Is a tendency to depression inherited?

**Treatment**
– What sorts of psychotherapy are effective for depression?

**Medication**
– Do certain drugs work best with certain depressive illnesses? What are the guidelines for choosing a drug?
– How do you tell when a treatment is not working? How do you know when to switch treatments?
– How do antidepressants relieve depression?
– Are Antidepressants just “happy pills?”
– What percentage of depressed people will respond to antidepressants?
– What does it feel like to respond to an antidepressant? Will I feel euphoric if my depression responds to an antidepressant?
– What are the major categories of anti-depressants?
– What are the side-effects of some of the commonly used antidepressants?
– What are some techniques that can be used by people taking antidepressants to make side effects more tolerable?
– Many antidepressants seem to have sexual side effects. Can anything be done about those side-effects?
– What should I do if my antidepressant does not work?

Causes (cont.)
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Q. What initiates the alteration in brain chemistry?

It can be either a psychological or a physical event. On the physical  side, a hormonal change may provide the initial trigger: some women dip into depression briefly each month during their premenstrual phase; some find that the hormone balance created by oral contraceptives disposes them to depression; pregnancy, the end of pregnancy, and menopause have also been cited. Men’s hormone levels fluctuate as deeply but less obviously.

It is well known that certain chronic illnesses have depression as a frequent consequence: some forms of heart disease, for example, and Parkinsonism. This seems to be the result of a chemical effect rather than a purely psychological one, since other, equally traumatic and serious illnesses don’t show the same high risk of depression.
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What to Do (On and Off the Web) While You’re Waiting for Your Antidepressants to Kick In

Image: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

I’ve been there; I’ve done that. I’ve suffered from depression nearly my whole life, and wasn’t diagnosed till I was 27. I know all the stages you go through when you’re waiting those six interminable weeks for your antidepressant meds to start working. So, as my gift to you, since I know your mind might be kind of cloudy if you’re depressed right now, I’ve compiled this list of suggestions. I hope they give you some moments of relief. Just so I’m not accused of discriminating against non-depressives, you all who don’t suffer from depression can feel free to check out my suggestions too. Someone pointed out to me that it takes some people more than six weeks to feel much better. That’s definitely true. Everyone’s different, and some people could even take fewer than six weeks to feel normal again. And the newer antidepressants can take considerably less time than six weeks to be effective. This guide is divided the way it is as just a general guideline. Continue reading

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What to Do During the Middle Two Weeks You’re Waiting for Your Antidepressants to Kick In

Image: Harmony in Red (The Dessert) by Henri Matisse

Harmony in Red (The Dessert) by Henri Matisse

Chances are you’re not having quite so many devastatingly low days now. You’re functioning a little better overall, but you’re still not ready to run any marathons yet or run for public office. Don’t worry about it – this recovery takes time, and it happens so subtly you may not notice it till someone else points it out. You’re probably still not eager to spend too much time outside your home, but the cyberworld provides many diversions (you can wander around it in your pajamas, and no one will know). I’ve found that things of beauty are both soothing and refreshing at this point, so that’s where we’ll start first. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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