Most of our blog topics are designed to offer tips and support for maximizing functioning, quality of life, and happiness for those who are already living fairly well with MCI.
However, it is important that we acknowledge that a sizable percentage of patients living with MCI will experience significant clinical depression that requires medical intervention. This recent large study confirming the effectiveness of antidepressant medications is an opportunity to review the common symptoms of depression and to encourage any of you who feel you may be struggling with depression to ask for help. Certainly, if you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, this is an emergency situation requiring immediate care. If you are having such thoughts of self-harm or suicide, stop reading now and seek help. You can contact your primary care physician, go to a local Emergency Room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
What are other symptoms of depression? This is an important first question as many of us have “bad days” and “stress.” It is normal human functioning to have emotions, both positive and negative, in response to situations around us. Emotional responses are normal. However, sometimes, emotional symptoms are prolonged (feeling bad for a couple of weeks instead of just a bad day), and we experience additional physical or emotional changes that mean we may have a problem that is not just “stress” or a “bad day”. If this is the case, it is time to ask for help.
Review the symptoms below to determine if you might need to seek help.
Depression is often characterized by feeling sad, but for others, especially older individuals, depression is not a feeling of sadness, but a loss of positive emotion. Do you have either
If you are either feeling sad or loss of positive emotion in your life most days for at least a couple of weeks, and you have more than one or two of the above additional symptoms , I strongly encourage you to see your doctor. I also encourage you to discuss how you are feeling with your loved ones. Sometimes it is hard for the person who is depressed to recognize all of the above changes. Perhaps review the above list with your spouse, partner, or other significant family member (adult children for example) and see if they notice the above symptoms. In our next post, we'll review treatment options for depression. In the mean time, depression can range from mild to severe, so even if you just have a few symptoms that you think might be mild or “stress” your doctor can help evaluate this further and determine if treatment is warranted.
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