According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), major depressive disorder (MDD) affects roughly 16.1 million adults in the United States and is the top cause of disability for people ages 15 to 44.
Major depressive disorder is a lifelong mental health disorder characterized by pervasive feelings of emptiness, despair, or sadness; fatigue or lack of energy; anxiety or restlessness; and sleep disturbances, among many other crippling symptoms.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, our team here at Epic Health Partners wants you to know that there is hope, and there are strategies you can employ to successfully cope with it and keep it from holding you captive. Here are a few tips from our mental health professionals here at Epic Health Partners to help you function and live well with major depressive disorder:
Tip #1 Consult your primary care physician.
Your primary care physician (PCP) is a great place to start. They will carry out a thorough physical exam and order some tests to rule out other medical conditions (e.g., anemia, low blood sugar, hypothyroidism, etc.) that could be contributing to your symptoms. If your PCP determines that your symptoms aren’t due to any underlying medical condition, they will give you a referral to see a licensed mental health professional, who can perform a mental health evaluation to confirm a diagnosis.
Your mental health provider will likely use the depression criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Tip #2 Express your thoughts in writing.
Writing is a means of catharsis, which refers to the act of releasing strong emotions. Expressing and being totally honest about your concerns, feelings, and thoughts in your writing greatly helps relieve stress—and stress management is an integral part of managing depression. Spend just a few minutes a day writing, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
Tip #3 Exercise.
When you’re living with MDD, exercise can seem counterintuitive, especially when getting out of bed can already seem like a tall order, but know that it can do wonders for both your mind and body. You don’t need to engage in strenuous exercise: simply walking or going for a run around the neighborhood can already make a difference.
Exercise triggers the release of feel-good hormones, which promote positive feelings and sense of well-being, thus helping you get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed your condition. Exercise also gives you an opportunity to interact with others: just a simple exchange of greeting or friendly smile with people you see around the neighborhood can already help enhance your mood. Lastly, exercise is one of the healthiest coping mechanisms—a great alternative to drinking alcohol, smoking, and using drugs.
Tip #4 Reach out for support.
Studies show that having a strong support system comes with a number of benefits, including better coping skills and improved sense of well-being. These are good reasons to not isolate yourself or avoid contact with your loved ones and friends. Staying connected with the people who matter to you can help keep you from going into a downward spiral.
It also greatly helps to join a support group, which provides a platform for you to learn coping strategies and information about treatments as well as hear other people’s experiences, which you may find similar to yours.
One final word: if you’re plagued by thoughts of harming yourself or suicide, don’t wait to seek intervention. Contact 911 and/or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or text “HOME” to the 741-741 immediately.
Psychiatric Services in Danville, Martinsville, and Richmond, VA
Depression is a complex condition requiring more than just a pharmacological fix. At Epic Health Partners, our highly qualified mental health providers employ a multifaceted intervention program, which can include medication management, individual and family counseling, behavior therapy, and positive reinforcement—all geared toward helping you break the vicious cycle of depression and find a new beginning.
We also provide comprehensive education, which we believe can have an appreciable impact on your adherence to your depression treatment plan. Working with our providers means you are under the care of mental health professionals who are genuinely invested in the outcome of your treatment and your overall well-being.
Don’t allow MDD or any other mental health disorder keep you from living the life you enjoy. Schedule a consultation with one of our providers today. Contact us at (434) 835-4601. You may also fill out this form, and we will promptly get in touch with you.