Antidepressant

When Should You Go to the Hospital for Severe Depression?

Knowing when to commit yourself or a loved one to the hospital to be treated for severe depression can be a very gray area. I wish there were a set of directions much like those when you are in labor: if contractions come within five minutes of each other and last a minute, pack your bags.

Some physicians will make the decision for you, but usually it is up to you. Here are a few guidelines.

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Antidepressant

3 Reasons Why Not All Mental Health Professionals are Created Equal

The biggest regret of those who have lived through a depressive or bipolar disorder episode is that they didn’t obtain a rigorous diagnosis and treatment plan early enough.

Lora Inman is one such person, interviewed in my book Back From The Brink. A long-time depression sufferer and passionate mental health advocate, she went for decades without a proper diagnosis or treatment, which prolonged her suffering and made postpartum depression even harder to manage.

Lora’s story perfectly illustrates three very good reasons why you need a trusted mental health professional.

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Antidepressant

7 Things a Depressed Parent Can Say to a Child

I’m usually pretty good at hiding my tears from my kids, but lately I’ve been busted a few times because they come so frequently and don’t go away.

How do I respond when my grade-schoolers ask me why I’ve been crying? How do I explain this insidious illness to them?

Two years ago I wrote a children’s book devoted to these questions. It’s called, What Does Depressed Mean? A Guidebook for Children with a Depressed Loved One.

Excerpted from the book, here are seven things that you can say to your child when you’re depressed.

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Antidepressant

What One Clinician Learned about Coping with Loss

Clinical psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, PsyD, has experienced many losses in her life. When she was 10, her grandfather died. When she was 18, her 8-year-old sister died of cancer.

She experienced the hardest loss when her closest sister and brother-in-law died just two months apart. He died of skin cancer. She died after drinking and taking too many Tylenol.

Around that time Hibbert also lost her aunt to a rare brain disease. Her husband lost his grandmother, both grandfathers and his dad in the span of two years.

“[I]t has been a lot of death for my family. But loss is about so much more than death.”

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Antidepressant

Are You Struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) -- sometimes known as the "winter blues" -- is an “equal-opportunity oppressor,” according to Norman Rosenthal, M.D., in his comprehensive book Winter Blues Survival Guide: A Workbook for Overcoming SAD. This form of clinical depression affects people of all ages -- even kids -- races and ethnic groups.

Fortunately, SAD is highly treatable. One of the keys to managing the disorder is knowing your personal pattern of symptoms. This plays a big role in how you’ll treat your disorder.

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Antidepressant

The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned in Managing My Depression

“Everybody's depression is different,” said David Blistein, a writer in southern Vermont and author of David's Inferno: My Journey through the Dark Wood of Depression.

It is a complex disorder, and healing may come from different sources, he said. But when you’re struggling with an illness, it can help to hear how others have survived and thrived.

That’s why we wanted to know the greatest lessons others have learned about managing their illnesses. Below, individuals share everything from the importance of accepting their depression to understanding its powerful influence to discovering one’s inner strength.

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Antidepressant

The Mysteries of Sleep Explained

We know we need it. If we don’t get it, we’re cranky, have trouble concentrating, tend to overeat and are more likely to make mistakes.  Yet, with the crush of demanding schedules, bad habits, or sleep disturbances, we don’t always get enough.

So what is happening during those precious hours when we’re asleep?  Is it really a time of restoration for our brains?  And is it possible that it’s more than that?

What happens in our brains while we're asleep is a question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer.

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Antidepressant

Nuvigil: Not Better Than Placebo for Depression Symptoms in Bipolar

Millions of people around the world rely on antidepressants in the treatment of clinical depression and, to a lesser extent, bipolar disorder. Over a dozen such medications exist, and many are also available in generic form.

But for reasons that scientists can't yet adequately explain, some people don't respond to many antidepressant drugs. And the drugs they do respond to may carry unwanted side effects that make taking the drug for any length of time downright challenging.

So drug companies are constantly looking for new drugs, new uses for old drugs, and new formulations of old drugs to help improve their batting average. Sadly for this effort, though, we can cross off another potential drug -- Nuvigil (armodafinil).

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Antidepressant

Is a Glut of Antidepressants Really So Bad?

The other week I read in the New York Times about a "glut of antidepressants." The story was about the loose (and perhaps over-diagnosis) of depression in a community sample of over 5,600 patients.

Most of those patients examined who supposedly had clinical depression turned out to, in fact, not have it -- only just over 38 percent met the official criteria after 12 months.

Somehow this got convoluted with the increase in antidepressants over the past two decades. "One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four."

While we can lament this increase all we want, I also can't help but say, "So what?"

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Antidepressant

What are Some of the Physiological Manifestations of PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a result of severe trauma. The trauma experienced is usually one that has threatened a person's safety. PTSD is seen in people returning from fighting in a war, or people who have been victims of violence or a natural disaster.

It’s normal to feel traumatized by significant life events such as surviving a severe car accident. It becomes pathological when the feelings of trauma, anxiety, panic, or sadness don’t fade with time. People who experience PTSD may feel like they are forever changed and suffer constant panic attacks, loss of sleep and social isolation.

Trauma and prolonged stress inevitably has a negative impact on overall health. PTSD has been linked to more physician visits in veteran populations.

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Antidepressant

You Will Gain Weight on these 6 Psychiatric Medications

I had been on the drug Zyprexa (olanzapine) for four weeks and had already gained 15 pounds which, you know, didn’t help my depression.

After going to a wedding and catching a side view of myself, I called my doctor and told him that my name was now Violet Beauregarde, you know, the gum chewer in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” who becomes a blueberry balloon. Except that when I rose to the top of the room I was crying.

“The two most common questions that patients ask me are, ‘Will I become dependent on the medications?’ and ‘Will I gain weight?’” says Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

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Antidepressant

What If a Sugar Pill Was Just as Effective As Psychotherapy?

Yum, sugar pills! We talk about them all the time in science, where they have a much more formal and less appetizing name -- placebos.

A placebo is simply something used in research to act as a treatment equivalent, so as to not bias either the research subjects or the researchers themselves in how they perceive and react to the experimental treatment. In research on drugs, this often means giving one group of patients pills that look just like the medicine being studied, but lacking any active ingredient.

In recent years, new research has emerged looking solely at the studies that were used to gain FDA approval of antidepressant medications (some of which were never published). When taken together, the studies found that antidepressant medications may not be as effective as previously thought (but what any patient who's ever tried them could've told us decades ago). This recent research found effect sizes of just 0.31.

Which got some researchers to wonder... If antidepressant drug treatment effect sizes might be lower than we had thought, could the same be true for psychotherapy effect sizes too?

Could, in fact, a sugar pill offer as much change in one's depression as months or years of intensive psychotherapy?

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