In my last post I mentioned the idea of not giving up on seeking out treatment for depression. Having said that, I felt like I needed to follow up with my knowledge and understanding as to what's available for treatment. I don't want to give the perception that I have all of the answers, because I don't - not even close. However, I do hope to share what limited experience and understanding I have, in hopes of benefiting another. Some may have a different perspective than I do, but the important part in all of this is to find a treatment that is beneficial for you in your own personal battle.
I come from a family with medical roots. I have a brother who is nearing the end of his residency in gastroenterology. I have another brother who recently graduated and will soon begin his residency in neurology at the Mayo Clinic. I have a brother in law who will soon be graduating and will be doing his residency in pediatrics. I also have a brother in law who is a practicing chiropractor. If you've ever dealt with doctors and chiropractors, you will understand that they have a different approach in how they handle treatment for various ailments or injuries. I find merit in both of these strategies depending on the needs and circumstances of the individual person.
In the LDS (Mormon) church we are taught to abide by what is known as the "Word of Wisdom." These teachings are essentially guidelines which are put into place in order to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. We are taught to refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco. We are also given guidelines, comparable to what many know as the food pyramid, which enlightens our understanding of a proper and healthy balance of food intake.
As members of the LDS church we believe that our bodies are sacred and that they are a blessing from God. Therefore, we should care for our bodies as if they are a gift from God, and strive to do our part in maintaining a healthy balance. To me, that summarizes what the purpose of the Word of Wisdom is - to help us maintain healthy bodies.
There are many approaches to treating depression and/or anxiety, but the most important part in it all is finding what works for your personal situation. If I can, I would like to share with you my approach in treating different illnesses and disorders.
I have what is called hypothyroidism, which is an under active thyroid. Hypothyroidism can create many different health problems, including depression. To keep my thyroid regulated and prevent additional health concerns I take medication.
I also have a chronic kidney disease known as IGA nephropathy. In addition to this, I have high blood pressure. Kidney disease and high blood pressure play off of one another. Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause, and also worsen kidney disease. Therefore it's important to maintain normal levels of blood pressure - to do this I take medication. Other than regulating blood pressure, there is not much that can be done medically speaking at this stage of my kidney disease. However, there have been studies done that have shown fish oil intake to be beneficial in helping to slow down the progression of this particular kidney disease, therefore fish oil has been included as well to my treatment regime.
My oldest son has ADHD, which brings with it another decision process in regards to treatment. My husband and I have studied quite a bit of information on ADHD and methods of treating it and dealing with it. My son has seen a professional counselor, he's taken natural remedies and most recently has been taking medication for it. Our decision to put him on medication did not come easily, but it came as a result of recognizing that his symptoms of ADHD were beginning to affect his self esteem, which in turn can have a great impact on a child's actions and decisions, having a lasting affect on their lives. When we weighed the pros and cons of each treatment option, we determined for the time being the most beneficial decision for our son was to put him on medication. This is something that we hopefully avoid having to do long term. Our hope is that through the use of medication our son will gain a better understanding of how it feels to function without ADHD symptoms. With that understanding and additional guidance from us as his parents, hopefully our son will recognize how to make adjustments to be able to help himself without the use of medication.
My oldest daughter is currently struggling with what is called body dysmorphic disorder and possibly some mild depression and anxiety. She currently is seeing a counselor who has been very beneficial for her. However, we are open to putting my daughter on medication if we feel her situation worsens, becomes very detrimental, or life threatening. Again this is a situation in which the positive results of each treatment option must be weighed against the negatives.
I experienced what I know to be my first bout of depression within a year after I had my fourth child. My treatment during that time began with counseling. Soon after I gained a focus and understanding of adrenal fatigue, which can also be a cause of depression. As part of my treatment in addition to counseling, I added some vitamins specifically formulated for adrenal fatigue as well as a prescription for progesterone (a hormone). which I took maybe a couple of times.
With my most recent bout of depression, I had to approach treatment in a different way. I was struggling so severely with depression and anxiety that it became life threatening for me. This happened within what seemed to be a fairly short amount of time. I needed to take immediate action to help myself get through this darkness. I remember sitting in the doctors office and my mind was so clouded and I was so severely affected as a result of the depression and anxiety that it was difficult for me to even answer the doctors questions and make decisions. I again began counseling with a professional counselor and I started on an antidepressant medication as well as some medication for anxiety.
I think an important thing to keep in mind with antidepressant medication is that sometimes the first medication that you try, may not be effective for you. There is still a lot to learn about depression and each antidepressant works a little bit differently on how they affect the chemical balance within your brain. It took me a couple different tries with my family doctor and a visit to a psychiatrist to finally find a good medication fit for me. This has been a blessing in my life. Not everyone feels comfortable taking medication. However for my situation, it was more beneficial for me to take the medication, than to not. A reminder once again, that the benefit of pursuing a particular treatment has to outweigh the cost of not pursuing the treatment.
I've mentioned this before in previous posts that another crucial part of my treatment has been through professional counseling. I feel very fortunate that I was able to find a wonderful counselor from the start. To me this was a blessing from God. My counselor has literally been an angel for me, who happened to come in the form of an LCSW.
Finding a knowledgeable, kind, and trustworthy counselor can play a major role in helping to overcome or at least find some relief from depression. Don't ever be concerned about switching to another counselor if you are not benefiting from your current one. It may take some time, but the effort in finding the right counselor is well worth it, especially when it can potentially be such a major source of restoring light and hope to your life.
I am also aware of additional options available, which others have found beneficial for treating depression. Below is a list of resources that I know of, which can help in the battle against depression.
-Professional Counseling (Physcotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Electroconvulsive Therapy)
-Vitamins (especially vitamin D)
-St. John's Wart
Another resource that I have found very beneficial is the book "Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy," by David Burns. This book can be used as an excellent companion to cognitive behavioral therapy. In fact many who have used just the book alone, have found excellent results in depression treatment.
I hope that this information may be helpful as you strive to find proper treatment for your individual situation. Please remember to keep in mind the potential serious affects of depression and seek treatment that will be most beneficial for you in preventing the possible devastating results of this mental disorder.