Like many people, I equated people with depression as those who were weepy or lacking energy much of the time. I sometimes wondered if depressed people weren’t just folks who needed to pull themselves up by the boot straps and get on with life. All of these thoughts changed when I sought treatment for frequent headaches.
Headaches and Other Symptoms
I had been having headaches several times a week for nearly three months when I sought help from my family doctor. After he listened to my explanation of headache symptoms, he asked if I had been feeling depressed. I was annoyed at the question: I was concerned with my headaches, not some feeling of the blues. And no, I assured my physician, I had not been feeling depressed.
Another six weeks or more passed before I consulted another medical doctor. To my surprise, the second doctor also questioned whether I had been feeling depressed. That time around, I inquired why the subject of depression came up when only I wanted was some relief for my headaches.
The doctor explained that one of the many symptoms of depression is the presence of physical problems that had no obvious cause, such as headaches or backaches. It turns out there are a wide variety of symptoms of major depression, such as these listed by the Mayo Clinic:
* Feelings of irritability or frequent anger
* Crying spells for no apparent reason
* Excessive sleeping or the reverse, insomnia
* Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering things, making decisions
* Lowered sex drive
* Feelings of unhappiness or sadness
* Slowed thinking, talking or body movements
My Experience with Treatment of Depression
I recognized myself in some of the other symptoms of depression, besides just the headaches I was having. I didn’t feel particularly sad or unhappy, but I realized I was irritable and fidgety. The doctor suggested I try an antidepressant medication, but I didn’t want to use a medication if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
I did make an appointment to see a counselor, something I wasn’t sure I needed, but it seemed to be worth a try. It turned out counseling was a positive experience for me, although not a brief one. After several months of therapy, my counselor encouraged me to discuss with my doctor about the need for an antidepressant medication.
While my counselor felt that I had been making fair progress in handling the symptoms of my depression, he also felt I could do even better with the addition of a pharmaceutical agent. My doctor agreed with the counselor’s assessment and I’ve been taking an antidepressant daily ever since.
Treatment Options for Depression
It’s important to understand that while many people become sad or unhappy from time to time, clinical depression — major depression — is something more than just “the blues.” It affects the quality of a person’s life in many areas, as the symptoms mentioned earlier demonstrate. Clinical depression does not go away on its own, as the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine relates.
Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy are the two most frequently used forms of treatment.
As I learned through my own experience, sometimes you can’t begin to feel better, to have optimal overall health, until you open your mind to the possibilities. If you have clinical depression, you’re not only going to improve the quality of your life, but also the lives of those close to you by seeking treatment.
Sources: Personal experience
MayoClinic.com; Major Depression Symptoms; February 10, 2012
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Office of Student Affairs; Clinical Depression