Overview of Depression
Depression affects about 14.8 million Americans a year, or about 6.7% of the US population in a given year. This is a serious disorder that causes pain and suffering to the individual and their loved ones. Moreover, the economic loss from an inability to work or decreased productivity from depression is staggering, about $11 billion a year.
Why can’t I just “wait it out?”
Depression is debilitating and years of thriving and happiness are lost by people who choose to “wait it out.” Relationships are irretrievably broken, jobs are lost, and a cycle of guilt and worthlessness continues. People with a “tough it out” attitude can often experience more severe, prolonged, and frequent episodes of depression than those who choose to pursue treatment. Depression is not curable, but it can be managed and treated.
Is the answer always medicine?
A resounding no! Talk therapy is always indicated for those having trouble managing their moods. Many times a depressed person is thinking incorrect, automatic thoughts that have deep roots in their core beliefs about themselves. A trained, empathic individual can shed light and insight into the depressed person’s life and show where their thoughts are incorrect and how to replace them with balanced ones. Many times a relationship with a good therapist can be all one needs to manage their depression.
Also, many people neglect basic human self-care prior to or during episodes of depression. Things like daily sunshine, good sleep, limiting screen time, cardio exercise, healthy eating and avoiding junk food, taking vitamins, getting involved with other people in groups or hobbies, having something to look forward to (like a vacation), pursuing learning—all of these are important human components. To neglect one for a long time will be stressful on one’s mental health.
When might one consider medication?
If one is engaged in therapy as best as they can, as well as trying to manage their self-care, and is still struggling with depression, this is the time to consider medication under the guidance of a medical professional. Also, if one has severe symptoms of depression, or is have suicidal thinking, this is definitely the time to consult your doctor. Successful medication does not erase all one’s problems, but it improved symptoms and boost mood. Oftentimes this allows the patient to then more actively and successfully engage in their talk therapy with their therapist, whereas before they were too depressed to gain insight about themselves or implement any coping skills or techniques they learned in therapy.
What about all the side effects of antidepressants?
Unfortunately, antidepressants all carry side effects to some degree or another. These can vary from initial side effects such as nausea, vomiting, bowel changes, headache, dizziness. Longer term side effects include weight gain and sexual dysfunction. If these happen, psychiatrists either lower the dose, change the medication, or add a second medication to counteract the side effects. Working closely and being honest with your psychiatrist will be your best strategy in dealing with unpleasant side effects.
Any novel treatments on the horizon?
There is always research going on in depression. One exciting new field of research is ketamine infusions. Ketamine is an anesthetic used since the 1960’s, but the last decade of research has shown safe, amazing and robust antidepressant effects when given at very low doses. This effect is very rapid, measured in hours and days, rather than in weeks and months that one must wait for traditional antidepressants. The bothersome side effects of traditional antidepressants are also absent in ketamine infusions. Most people need 6 infusions over 3 weeks, and then booster doses every 2-4 months. Many people can reduce their dose of traditional antidepressants or even get off them altogether. Dr. Kim is pleased to offer ketamine infusions for depression, bipolar depression, postpartum depression, and PTSD. For more information about ketamine infusions, please go to texasketaminespecialists.com.
Dr. Kim treats people struggling with depression with supportive therapy, medication management, and with ketamine infusions. She treats each person as a unique individual with their own struggles, dreams, purposes, and priorities, and believes in working in a collaborative relationship with the person to help them gain excellent mental health. Her philosophy is holistic, meaning that she does not believe in “a happy pill,” but instead approaches mental health as having essential components of mind, brain, and body.