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GUIDELINE FOR RECOGNIZING DEPRESSION AND CARE PROVIDED

When you are first diagnosed with depression


If your doctor or therapist told you that you have depression, you may want information to help you understand depression and how it can be treated. This guideline can help.

Here's a quick checklist of depression symptoms. Each individual may have some or all of these symptoms. Sometimes those close to you can also notice these changes.

  1. Depressive mood; feelings of gloom, helplessness or pessimism for days at a time
  2. Sleep disturbance; either too much or too little sleep, trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night or waking too early in the morning
  3. Frequently feel tired or lacking in energy
  4. Isolation and diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  5. Appetite disturbance; eating far less than usual - or far more, gaining or losing weight
  6. Inability to concentrate; can't seem to focus on even routine tasks
  7. Feeling a sense of inappropriate guilt or marked worthlessness
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation/attempt

Sometimes, people who suffer with depression turn to alcohol or other drugs to help them feel better. Doing this won’t help and generally makes the person’s situation worse.

This guideline does not explain the exact treatment you may need, but it will give you an idea of what to expect when you see a behavioral health provider for treatment.

  1. At your first visit, your doctor or therapist will ask about your medical and family history. You may be told you need medicine, lab tests or other tests.
  2. Expect a follow-up visit approximately every one to three weeks for the first three months. These appointments will help you get well faster. Tell your doctor/therapist about any problems you still have, even if the problems don’t seem important to you. If you don’t feel that you have a “connection” with your doctor/therapist by the second or third office visit, don’t give up or stop treatment. Talk directly to your doctor or therapist. This conversation may change your feelings. Remember, you can always call New Directions and we will try to give you a better match.
  3. Be sure to keep your appointments. Your doctor/therapist needs to check on how you are doing. You will have ups and downs during the recovery process.
  4. For the best care, permit your health care professionals to speak freely with each other. To do so, sign all consent forms.
  5. Let your doctor or therapist speak with someone who cares about you. Consider inviting a friend or family member to your therapy sessions. This will help your doctor or therapist understand you better. It will also help your friends and family members learn how they can be part of your recovery.
  6. Exercise is important when you are feeling depressed. Walking for at least 20 minutes every day can help you recover.
  7. If you are taking medicine:
    • It may take 2-3 weeks or longer for medicine to work. If your symptoms aren’t going away after a few weeks or if you have side effects, let your doctor know. To help you feel better, your doctor may change the type of medicines you take or the amount you take.
    • Be sure and tell your doctor:
      • About other medicines, herbal supplements or non-prescription drugs you are taking
      • If you drink alcohol
      • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
    • You will know you are getting better when the problems that led you to ask for treatment start to go away.
      • If this is your first depression, take your medicine for at least 6 months.
      • For a second depression, plan to take your medicine for 2-3 years.
      • For a third depression, plan to take your medicine until your doctor tells you not to, even if your problems go away.
    • When you and your doctor decide to stop the medicine, your doctor will ask you to stop slowly. It may take up to 8 weeks or longer of decreasing your medicine before you completely stop
  8. If symptoms return, call your doctor. Your doctor may start you on the same medicine you took it in the past. Some people need to change medicines if the depression returns

You will get the best care by telling your nurses, doctors and other health care professionals about your mental health treatment and medicines.

Additional Depression Self-Help Resources


Adopted: 5/2000
Last Updated: 9/2020
Reviewed Annually