Help is on the way for depression

If you think you may be suffering from depression, you don't need to fight it alone. Depression is a medical condition than can be effectively treated. That's why it's important to ask for help.

The first step in fighting depression is to get an accurate diagnosis. If you've noticed symptoms of depression (such as feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt; loss of interest in things you used to enjoy; fatigue or loss of energy; weight changes; sleep changes; difficulty thinking or concentrating; or thoughts of death) that have been happening on most days for at least 2 weeks, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you determine whether the symptoms you're experiencing are due to depression. Some of the physical symptoms of MS (such as fatigue, loss of energy, or difficulty thinking) can look similar to the symptoms of depression. But by carefully assessing your symptoms, your doctor will be able to tell whether you may be depressed.

Next, you and your doctor can work together to choose a treatment plan that works for you. The usual treatments for depression include psychotherapy and medication, often in combination. You may need to try more than one treatment before you find one that works. Your doctor and psychotherapist (or psychiatrist) can also help you learn new skills to help you cope while you are recovering from your depression. Each person's needs may be different, but skills that others have found helpful include dealing with fatigue, interacting with others, and learning to respond to challenges in an assertive way rather than feeling angry or helpless.

Finally, reach out to your family and friends for support. It can take a number of weeks for depression medications to reach their full effects. And even after the medications have kicked in, you may still need support to help you recover. Sometimes it also helps to speak to other people with MS who have gone through depression. They can offer hope and help you find ways to cope as you recover from depression. Contact your local MS Society chapter for more information about support groups in your area.

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