An Essential First Step in Treating Depression: A Medical Evaluation

Visit Your Doctor

Depression can actually be caused by several illnesses. The flu, various other viruses, anemia, substance abuse, diabetes, and thyroid disease are just some things that produce depression as a 'side effect,' or mimic its symptoms. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can produce depression.Your first step in managing your depression would be to visit your doctor to check for these things. Get a complete physical, including a blood glucose test, thyroid test (T3/T4 test AND increased TSH test--ask for the results) and a blood count. These three tests will help your doctor rule out three major medical causes of depression.

Anti-Depressant Medication?

You've probably been exposed to lots of advertisements about anti-depressant medication. You will want your depression diagnosed by a professional mental health practitioner before making any decision about medications. Unfortunately, 80% of antidepressant prescriptions in the U.S. are written by family physicians, who may have little or no training at all in psychopharmacology or in psychological diagnosis, who feel pressured by patients who've seen pervasive drug company advertisements for antidepressants, and are heavily courted by pharmaceutical reps. Because depression and anxiety are often symptoms of an underlying psychological condition, it's important not to medicate the symptom without the diagnosis and, if necessary, monitoring of side effects by a psychiatrist or psychologist. This is why most physicians require a patient receiving medication to be seeing a psychologist at the same time.

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