Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Feeling depressed? What you should do before seeing a therapist...and a tip on avoiding crooks


If you call me up, one of the first things I’ll ask you is if you’ve had a medical checkup recently.  If you haven’t, I’ll suggest you see your family doctor. Why?  Because depression can be a side effect of a medical issue.

Almost everyone I know is feeling stressed these days. The economy is bad, money is tight and most people are trying to fit a job, a family, and a personal life into too few hours.

It makes sense therefore to put down any feelings of depression to stress, anxiety and other problems.  However, depression can have its roots in medical issues.  Take a look at this list:

#1 Depression can be a side-effect of taking medicines used to treat acne, asthma, high blood pressure, HIV and other conditions. Even some birth control systems are linked to depression now. 

#2 Depression can be the result of pain, even low-level pain. Exactly how this works is unclear, but if you have had an accident, have back pain, arthritis or some other condition that hurts, be aware that it can have a mental health effect too.

#3 When your thyroid, a gland in your neck, isn’t working properly, you may feel tired and depressed. Other symptoms can include constipation, rough hair and skin, muscle pain, problems with your weight and feeling the cold. It’s easily diagnosed and treated by your doctor.

#4 Although the links are uncertain, there is some evidence that diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS) may put you at greater risk of depression. 

#5 If you’re on a diet, or you have diarrhea, you may be missing nutrients and this can lead to depression. Chugging supplements may not be the best solution, either.

Supposing you do go and see your doctor and you discover a medical issue, does that mean you don’t need to see a therapist?  As usual, the answer is maybe.

Take the thyroid problem, which is quite common. For some people, taking the meds to fix their thyroid means their depression about their micromanaging boss, their hassles with Great Aunt Judy and their angst ridden teenage son suddenly become manageable.

They did have stresses in their lives, but they find the thyroid malfunction has been sapping their usual bounce and confidence.  Once that’s fixed, they’re good to go.

Others find that when the thyroid is fixed, they still need help to cope with the boss, the aunt and the teenager. So they need the meds and a therapist to help them make effective changes.

The bottom line is this: every person is different, every case is different so the idea is that you get as much information as you can so that you can make an informed decision and take the action that works out best for you.

Now, about avoiding those crooks.

If you go and see a psychiatrist, she is also a medical doctor, so she can do tests to check for medical issues. Therapists tend not to be doctors, so we suggest you go and see your regular doctor. There’s no need to be fancy - just go and see someone sensible, tell them you’re depressed and ask them to check if there’s maybe a medical cause.

Crooks will demand you do in-house pee tests (and some really cheeky beggars hire nurses to do blood tests!) and while they’re gleefully adding charges to your bill, they talk grandiosely about your results. Super nasty ones then sell you supplements too, promising amazing results.

In short, seeing your family doctor before you see a therapist is sensible and if you see a psychiatrist, you’re in safe hands too. But if a non-medical doctor wants to do medical tests, my advice is don’t walk - RUN!

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