Seeking Medical Help
If you suspect you are depressed, don't try to diagnose yourself. Your general practitioner and the neurologist who treats you for epilepsy are first stops on the way to an answer. They may evaluate and treat you themselves, or they may suggest that you see a psychiatrist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of mood disorders.
Be Prepared for Your Medical Appointment
Be prepared to answer some basic questions when you seek medical treatment, such as:
- When did these feelings start?
- How long have they lasted?
- How severe are they?
- Have you had these feelings before?
- What makes the symptoms better or worse?
- Have other people in your family been treated for similar problems? If so, how were they treated?
- Have you noticed a change in mood associated with a change in your epilepsy medicine?
- What is the timing of your mood problems in relation to your seizures?
- Does your mood seem to worsen or improve after a seizure?
If you do not have any complicating factors such as thoughts of suicide or psychosis (being out of touch with reality), your primary doctor may feel comfortable treating you. However, if you do not improve under your primary doctor's care, then a referral to a psychiatrist is needed.
If treatment helps and you begin to feel better, the next decision may be whether or how long to continue treatment. Do not stop treatment on your own. People who have a history of repetitive depression have a high likelihood of suffering a recurrence and may need life-long treatment.
Finally, it is important for all members of your treatment team, including your counselor and psychiatrist, to communicate well with each other.
In some cases of severe depression, physicians may recommend that people spend some time in a hospital.
They do so for various reasons, such as if medication side effects are affecting a person's self-care, or if someone has attempted suicide and needs a controlled setting to recover, or if a person has lost touch with reality and cannot make decisions.
While in the hospital, there is time to talk to the doctor or counselor about other treatment options.