Depression is a complex and pervasive mental health condition that can significantly impact a person's emotional well-being and overall quality of life. While feeling down or sad occasionally is a normal part of the human experience, it becomes a cause for concern when these feelings persist, intensify, and interfere with daily functioning. If this is the case, it might be time to seek the services of a psychiatrist for depression.
Recognizing the signs of depression is crucial for early intervention and seeking appropriate help. In this article, we will explore five key indicators that may suggest it's time to consider consulting a psychiatrist for professional support and guidance on the journey to healing and emotional well-being. Understanding these signs can be the first step towards regaining control over your mental health and embarking on a path toward recovery.
1. You Are Experiencing Severe Depression
You've experienced deep, persistent sadness, fatigue, lack of motivation, and other symptoms that are really impacting your daily life and ability to function. Even if you still manage to get through the day and complete some daily tasks, if depression has been reducing your quality of life, it’s always best to seek treatment. We will dive deeper into the symptoms of depression later in this article.
2. Previous Treatment Has Failed
You've tried therapy, medication from your primary doctor, lifestyle changes, etc., but have not experienced relief from your depression symptoms. A psychiatrist for depression can evaluate other types of medication as well as alternative treatment options such as ketamine.
3. You Have Co-Occurring Disorders
If you have been diagnosed or suspect you may have an additional mental illness such as an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, etc., a psychiatrist can provide specialized treatment. Many people with depression also have a co-occurring disorder and while that can make it more difficult to find the best treatment options, an experienced depression psychiatrist can help.
4. You Are Having Suicidal Thoughts
Having recurring thoughts of suicide or feeling at risk of harming yourself are huge red flags, and you should consult a psychiatrist. (NOTE: If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or call the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. There is always support available for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or severe distress.)
5. Sudden Depression
Depression that occurs abruptly without an obvious cause may indicate a mood disorder that requires psychiatric expertise. Your physical health might also be a factor with sudden depression, as some illnesses can trigger depression as well as childbirth or a traumatic event. Some medications also can cause or exacerbate depression, and a depression psychiatrist can evaluate both your mental and physical health.
6. Family History
Genetics can play a role in depression, so a family history may mean you need more tailored psychiatric treatment. Your psychiatrist also can look at your medical history and that of your relatives to determine whether or not that has any impact on your mental health issues.
The right depression psychiatrist can help identify the roots of your depression through diagnosis and provide comprehensive treatment including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of Depression
When you think about depression, you might conjure up an image of a person curled up in their bed, crying or feeling sad. While that certainly can be one manifestation of depression, many other symptoms can indicate a person is depressed.
Physical Pain: Depression can be associated with unexplained physical pain, such as headaches, stomachaches, backaches, or muscle pains, without any apparent underlying medical cause.
Changes in Appetite: While a decrease or increase in appetite is common in depression, some individuals may experience specific food cravings or aversions, leading to unusual eating patterns.
Hypersomnia: While insomnia is a well-known symptom of depression, some individuals may experience hypersomnia, where they sleep excessively and have difficulty staying awake during the day.
Psychomotor Slowing: In some cases, depression can lead to psychomotor slowing, which involves slowed physical and mental activity. This can make everyday tasks feel arduous and lead to sluggish movements and speech.
Cognitive Impairment: Depression can affect cognitive functions, leading to difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making, often referred to as "brain fog."
Irritability or Anger: Instead of appearing sad, some people with depression may express their emotional distress through irritability, anger, or even aggression.
Loss of Emotional Expression: Known as "flat affect," some individuals with depression may exhibit a lack of emotional expression, appearing emotionally blank or indifferent.
Social Withdrawal: While some people with depression may isolate themselves, others may engage in social situations while feeling detached and emotionally distant from others.
Fixation on Death or Existential Themes: Unusual preoccupation with death, dying, or existential themes may be present in some individuals experiencing depression.
Physical Self-Neglect: Depressed individuals might neglect their physical appearance and personal hygiene due to a lack of motivation and self-care.
Self-Destructive Behavior: Some individuals may engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, reckless driving, or self-harm, as a way of coping with their emotional pain.
It is crucial to remember that depression affects individuals differently, and some people may experience a combination of these unusual symptoms alongside more common signs of depression. If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these symptoms or suspect depression, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential for proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Mild Depression? What Should You Do?
Even if your symptoms aren’t impacting your ability to get work and personal tasks accomplished, mild depression reduces your quality of life, and seeking treatment can be a great option. In some cases, mild depression is common after an illness, a trauma or a life-changing event or perhaps due to changes in seasons. Many people experience some level of depression during the winter months when sunlight is at a minimum.
Talking with a therapist or a depression psychiatrist can be a great option to consider. Additionally, regular exercise and going outdoors can be helpful. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can help, as well. It also is recommended that you eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol and drugs, as these can worsen depression.
Do You Need A Depression Psychiatrist or Psychologist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors that can prescribe medication and diagnose mental health disorders as well as other health issues but typically don’t provide talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychologist can diagnose mental health issues, but not physical health issues and these mental health professionals cannot prescribe medication. However, a psychologist can provide you with talk therapy and other types of therapy.
In many cases, I recommend that you enlist the services of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist or therapist. Multi-faceted treatment plans with therapy and possibly medication tend to yield the best results when it comes to many mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
There are many treatment methods available for people with depression. Some medications can help reduce symptoms, although it is important to note that it does take time to find the best medication for each patient as well as the best dosage.
In some cases, if medication doesn’t work, we can look into alternative treatments for depression such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), ketamine treatments or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
If you do opt for medication, I also recommend finding a psychologist for talk therapy and also making some lifestyle choices to ensure that your physical and mental health is as strong as possible. This might include anything taking up a new hobby, art therapy, dance therapy, charity work, etc. Daily exercise, creating a daily schedule, minimizing stress and creating a soothing night/sleep schedule all can help reduce symptoms of depression.
How To Find A Psychiatrist For Depression
Finding a depression psychiatrist can seem like a huge challenge, but with telepsychiatry, you can expand your search field beyond setting for a “psychiatrist near me.” A virtual psychiatrist not only allows you to find the best possible match for your needs, but you can meet from the comfort of your own home or meet with your doctor when you are on vacation or on a work trip with ease.
When searching for a psychiatrist for depression, you can ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or friends or family members, as well as looking at patient reviews. Read over the website of each doctor carefully to see gauge whether or not their treatment philosophy feels comfortable to you. It can take time to find the right psychiatrist for your unique needs, but, in the end, finding the best care providers can ensure that treatment will be as successful as possible.
As an experienced psychiatrist for depression as well as many other mental health disorders, I strongly encourage anyone battling depression to seek treatment. My philosophy is that psychiatric disorders are not a weakness, they are a biological disease that is often treatable.
I offer both in-person psychiatric treatment and I also work as a virtual psychiatrist. In addition to serving as a depression psychiatrist, I also am a PTSD psychiatrist, bipolar psychiatrist, anxiety psychiatrist, addiction psychiatrist and an adult ADHD psychiatrist. Feel free to contact my office at any time to schedule a consultation and let’s get you on a path toward a happier, healthier future.
Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.