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Many people have dealt with depression or know someone who has struggled with it. This 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. We spoke with SIMED Health Psychologist Dr. Kristy Quackenbush-Orr. She shared tips on how to help friends and family. She also provided information on when you should see a doctor and what symptoms people with depression usually present. 

It's important to know 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. 

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

When should you see a doctor? 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.

 

Here are additional tips you can suggest to those struggling with depression.

1. Exercise – You should exercise at least 30 minutes every day as approved by your physician. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety.

2. Eat Healthy – Research recommends a Mediterranean diet and eating few sugary, processed foods.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Attend a support group – You can find support groups in most cities including Gainesville and Ocala.

6. See a therapist – You should see either a psychologist or a licensed mental health counselor to be evaluated to determine if medication is recommended. Psychotherapy or "talk therapy" 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.

7. Increase your social support – Spend more time with friends and reach out to friends for support and to help you cope. 

 

If you know someone experiencing anxiety or depression, let them know that you are here to support them through this time as you listen to their concerns and fears.

Click here to request an appointment online with a SIMED Psychologist and learn more about treatment options. 

If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide, we encourage you to contact the suicide hotline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) at 1-800-273-8255. Confidential help is available for free 24/7.