Life is challenging, no doubt about it. Moving, loss of job, having children, children leaving the house, changes in relationships, changes in hormones due to pregnancy or menopause...all things that have the potential to send us into depression.
By the time we are adults most of us have had some experience with depression, we know the feeling and we know how deeply it can pull a person down. More often than not some lifestyle changes, rest, or putting something fun on the calendar can pull us out of depression. When those things don’t work we reach out to a therapist for support. A therapist is a great place to start if you are having symptoms of depression. A therapist can assess your symptoms of depression, diagnose you with depression, and help you to start working on feeling better.
Often times a therapist will refer a client to their doctor to rule out any biological contributions. This means that the therapist is encouraging you to check in with your doctor to see if your depression is hormonal related, bio-chemically related, or if you can benefit from antidepressant medication. Taking anti-depressants is a personal decision that is entirely up to you. I always encourage my client’s to gather as much information as possible before making a decision and feel that knowing all of your options is always best.
What happens when you go to the doctor for depression medication?
Each doctor is going to have a different protocol but in general you doctor will ask you about your symptoms to assess how much you are struggling with depression.
Some questions that your doctor may ask you are:
Over the past 2 weeks have you struggled with a loss of interest in doing things you once enjoyed?
Over the past 2 weeks how often have you had feelings of hopelessness, depression, or feeling down?
Have you had trouble staying asleep or sleeping to much?
Have you had difficulty concentrating?
As uncomfortable as it might be I encourage you to answer these questions as truthfully as possible. Giving your doctor the full picture of how you are feeling will help your doctor identify the best way to help you.
At this point your doctor may feel that they have enough information to provide you with a prescription. Sometimes a doctor will take a blood sample to check for increase or decreased hormone levels, hypothyroidism, anemia, or low vitamin D.
Some questions to ask your doctor about antidepressants?
What are the side effects of this prescription?
What should I do if I decide I can’t handle the side effects?
How will I know if the antidepressant is working?
How long before I start to notice a change in my depression?
Getting the right antidepressant medication is a process. Often times the initial prescription or dosage is not the right fit for the client. Be patient, keep an open dialogue with your doctor.
If you are seeing a therapist during this time, make sure that you inform your therapist of the medication you are taking as it might change your treatment plan in therapy.
Depression doesn’t have to be a life long struggle. You absolutely can feel happy again. Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry, LMFT can help you to get to the root of your depression and anxiety, find hope again, and to start feeling better so that you can get back to enjoying your life.