St. Mary's Medical Center

Summer 2017

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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partner well. Depression impacts women emotionally, socially and occupationally." Mandelblatt says women should pay particular attention if they have multiple symptoms of depression, such as long-lasting sadness or anxiety, loss of interest in things they usually enjoy, problems with sleeping and general loss of energy (see related story at right). Not everyone will experience the same combination of symptoms, however, and the frequency of symptoms also varies from person to person. First line of defense: your doctor If you think you've got more than the blues, make an appointment with your primary care physician, who can assess your symptoms and rule out possible medical triggers. Certain medications, as well as conditions such as vitamin D and iron deficiencies and thyroid disorders, can trigger symptoms that mimic depression disorders. Dr. Robert Reiner, a psychologist and executive director of Behavioral Associates, a mental health organization in New York, adds that chronic pain, migraines, drug and alcohol addictions and chronic stress can cause depression. "You've got to look at psychological issues, as well as nutrition, exercise levels and other factors," he says. "Our moods aren't just a cause. They are also a result." Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or another mental health professional and may also suggest an antidepressant medication. But while antidepressants can help relieve depressive symptoms, they won't cure the underlying triggers. "For people with mild depression who want to stabilize their physiology, medication is a good choice," says Mandelblatt. "If the depression is so debilitating you can't get out of the house, you should explore medication. However, you also have to look at patterns and issues in your life that contribute to depression." Therapy options Although some people may see therapy as intimidating, there is nothing to feel anxious about, says Mandelblatt: "It's like going to lunch with a friend." Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, involves a variety of treatment techniques tailored to your needs. "You have a place to share yourself and leave whatever you need in that room," Mandelblatt says. "You're in control of the relationship. You may not share your darkest secrets in the first session, but hopefully you will feel comfortable to do so over time." One type of psychotherapy, called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), focuses on how your thoughts and feelings contribute to depression and teaches you new ways to respond to situations and challenge your negative beliefs. Another type of therapy, interpersonal therapy, focuses on reshaping how you interact with other people. Preventive care In addition to getting professional treatment for depression, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your mood. "Aerobic exercise is the single best thing you can do for depression," says Dr. Reiner. Along with walking, swimming and participating in other activities you enjoy, fill your diet with antioxidant- rich fruits and vegetables. Lean turkey, tuna and chicken all contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps your body make mood-boosting serotonin. Dark chocolate and salmon can also have positive effects on your mood. Above all, remember that "you don't have to suffer in silence," explains Mandelblatt. "There are people that can and will help you. You just have to reach out." Common depression symptoms Make an appointment with your health care provider if you're experiencing symptoms of depression: • A lasting sad, anxious or "empty" mood • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness • Feelings of irritability or restlessness • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities • Loss of energy • Problems concentrating, recalling details and making decisions • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much • Overeating or loss of appetite • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts • Aches or pains that don't improve with treatment National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Line (for military veterans and their families and friends) 1-800-273-8255, press 1 911 (for potentially life-threatening situations) In an emergency If you or someone you know is experiencing severe depression and/or may be suicidal, these 24-hour hotlines can offer immediate assistance: 17 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m | S U M M E R 2 0 1 7 | S P I R I T O F W O M E N

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