If you were diagnosed with a chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, an autoimmune disease, or diabetes, experiencing a period of sadness, anxiousness, worry, anger, and stress is not uncommon. But if distressing symptoms persist after a couple of weeks, depression could be further complicating your overall health.
Possible signs of depression:
- Persistent sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, anxiousness
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, guilty, or pessimistic
- Irritability, outbursts of anger, frustration
- Feeling helpless
- Restlessness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Lack of energy, fatigue
- Memory issues, difficulty with concentration or decision making
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, oversleeping)
- Changes in your appetite or weight gain/loss
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Frequent thoughts of self-harm, death or suicide
The good news is that depression is highly treatable, and working with your healthcare team is the place to start on your path to wellness. As with any health condition, the earlier the treatment for depression begins the more effective it is.
Don’t wait for your healthcare provider to bring up the subject. As you prepare for your next appointment, make this one of your top three topics to discuss. Write down your depressive symptoms, how long you have had them, how often, intensity, etc. Be honest and describe their impact on your daily life and those around you.
Bring a complete list of all the medications (and supplements) you take. Also let the doctor know about any personal history of anxiety or depression in yourself or your family. (Remember that everything you share with your healthcare team is private and confidential. It cannot be discussed with others without your permission.)
Your healthcare provider will explore the treatment options with you. Depression is often effectively treated with medication, “talk therapy” (talking one-on-one with a professional), or both. Find what works for you. Be patient as it may take some time to feel better. Research has shown that treating your chronic illness and depression together can help you manage both more effectively and improve your overall quality of life.
Should you find yourself in a crisis, call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI or text “NAMI” to 741741