Young man sketching on a notepad with a scenic background of mountains and rocks and a quote about depression
Many people have dealt with depression or know someone who has struggled with it. Depression can make everyday tasks difficult to perform and take the fun out of hobbies and passions. Sometimes people may not know what to do, if they should seek help, or if they even have depression.
All is not lost though. We spoke with SIMED Health Psychologist Dr. Kristy Quackenbush-Orr for National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 5) and World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10). She shared tips on dealing with and overcoming depression. She also provided information on when you should see a doctor and what symptoms people with depression usually present. 

Four Tips to Overcome Depression

If you think you have depression, try making one change at a time, and speak with your doctor if symptoms continue for an extended period of time.
1. Exercise – You should exercise at least 30 minutes every day as approved by your physician.
2. Attend Psychotherapy – Also known as “talk therapy”, psychotherapy can teach individuals how to change their automatic thoughts or their negative thought patterns. In psychotherapy, patients will also learn how to use cognitive reframes to change the way they think about situations. Therapy also addresses ways to incorporate positive coping skills daily into life. SIMED Health Psychologists offer psychotherapy.
3. Eat Healthy – Research recommends a Mediterranean diet and eating few sugary, processed foods.
4. Use Positive Coping Skills Daily – Coping skills help with handling stress in an effective manner. Coping skills include: journaling, deep breathing exercises, meditation, drawing, working out, gardening, going to church, spending time with friends, and engaging in a hobby.

When should you see a doctor?

Positive Coping Skills for Depression infographic

Professional help should be sought when symptoms continue for two weeks.
Symptoms include:
1. Feelings of sadness
2. Feelings of hopelessness
3. Feelings of helplessness
4. Anhedonia (Inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable like hobbies) 
5. Difficulty sleeping
6. A change in appetite
7. Fatigue
8. Thoughts of suicide
9. Poor concentration
10. Poor motivation
There are different severity levels of depression. You may not cry daily, have suicidal thoughts, or sleep all the time, but you can still experience depression. It can be more subtle, like feeling fatigued, having difficulty sleeping, not engaging in activities you used to enjoy, or not feeling motivated. 
If you notice any changes in mood or behavior for two weeks, complete a depression screening. You can get a screening through a SIMED Health Psychologist or SIMED Psychiatrist.

Why should you get a depression screening?

You can do a depression screening to find out if you have the disorder and the level of severity you experience. Screenings can be completed online or in paper-pencil format; a medical provider can also verbally ask questions. 
Once a screening is completed, a score is calculated which should indicate whether someone is experiencing a level of depression that requires further assistance. 
You should get a screening if you have been tearful, experiencing loss of interest in activities, feeling helpless, having thoughts of ending your life, feeling hopeless, or feeling lonely.

Five Tips for Living with Depression

If you have depression, make sure to use coping measures to manage the disorder. Changing your lifestyle a little can make living with depression easier.
1. Use Your Resources - Many resources are available to people with depression, and you are not alone. You can find resources online or in your local community.
2. Attend a support group – You can find support groups in most cities including Gainesville and Ocala.
3. See a therapist – You should see either a psychologist or a licensed mental health counselor to be evaluated to determine if an antidepressant or St. John’s wort (a form of traditional medication) is recommended. 
4. Exercise – Exercise at least 30 minutes a day as recommended by your physician. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
5. Increase your social support – Spend more time with friends and reach out to friends for support and to help you cope. 
SIMED Health Psychologists assist patients in dealing with medical conditions and the accompanying pain. To contact a Health Psychologist in Gainesville or Chiefland, call 352-332-9441. For an appointment in Ocala or Lady Lake or to set up an appointment with Dr. Quackenbush, call 352-732-3110. You can also schedule an appointment online
For an appointment with SIMED Psychiatry in Lady Lake, call 352-753-6887 or request an appointment online.
If you have thoughts of suicide, we encourage you to contact the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.