Treatment for Depression
Like epilepsy, depression may be treated with medication. However, talk therapy (counseling) is often tried first. Often counseling plus medication works better than medication alone. Some lifestyle changes may also help.
"Sharing and airing" helps some people cope. Talking with a licensed counselor may help you gain insight into feelings and problems that may be contributing to your mood.
A counselor cannot fix things for you, of course. A counselor can, however, be an important guide to help you make changes to improve your mood and daily life.
Sessions may be weekly or more spaced out, depending on your needs. Not all health insurance plans cover counseling; in some cases coverage may be limited. You will need to do some homework on your health insurance plan. If you do not have coverage for mental health services, you should look for sources of free or low cost services in your community.
Counselors or therapists work in a number of ways. They may help you focus on personal relationships that may be part of your problem. They may help you look at the way you think, react to situations or respond to stress.
You first need to get to know the therapist, and the therapist needs to get to know you and what is bothering you. Try not to become frustrated if you feel your first visit with a therapist does not seem to be helpful. Give it time and share your concerns with the therapist.
Also, therapists have different styles. If you feel you aren't connecting well, try another counselor.
Finding a Counselor or Therapist
You need to find a counselor you like and trust, someone who has the education and experience to help you. Before selecting a counselor, think about what changes you would like in your life and what issues you would like to address during therapy.
Your doctor may help you find a therapist that is a good fit for you. He or she may know counselors with experience in treating people with epilepsy.
Your local Mental Health Association may also have suggestions. You may also find a good selection of therapists in your health insurance provider book.
In addition, you may want to find out whether your state has a system of licensing counselors. If so, you can find out if a counselor has a current license and no record of serious complaints.
Here are some tips to help you manage daily living and avoid setbacks in your journey out of depression:
- If you have had a personal loss, allow yourself time to grieve. Don't deny your feelings.
- If you are coping with a painful news event that is getting a lot of media attention, turn off the TV.
- Try support group meetings. Other people with the same condition are likely to welcome you and offer help.
- Stick to a daily routine.
- Try not to skip meals.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Get some exercise. Taking a walk can fight the stresses that worsen mood disorders.
- Try not to make any major life changes, like buying a new house or starting a new job, during episodes of depressed mood.
- Avoid alcohol or illegal drugs. They may make your medications less effective and may also cause depression as their effects wear off.
- Make time to do things you enjoy.
Suppose talk therapy and lifestyle changes give you no relief?
At that point, your doctor may suggest taking medication for depressed mood. You've probably heard of Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft, to name a few.
Medications used to treat depression are called antidepressants. The type of medication chosen will depend on the type of mood disorder you have, what side effects the medication may cause, and how it may affect your seizures or seizure medication.
Just as in treating seizures, your doctor may have to try several different medications before finding the most effective single drug or combination of drugs that work for you. It takes several weeks for this type of medicine to do its job fully, so try to be patient.
Like epilepsy medications, today's antidepressants can be very effective. In fact, some people feel so much better that they may stop taking the medicine.
This is not a good idea.
Just like epilepsy medicines, antidepressants must not be stopped suddenly or your symptoms may come back. To achieve the best results, you should continue the medications as directed by your physician. Your doctor may order blood tests, such as liver function tests, once in a while to see how the medication is affecting your body.
If you are taking an antidepressant that may affect your seizure medication, your doctor may want to check your levels of epilepsy medication regularly.