Extra Help for Mood Disorders
The more serious the mood disorder, the more essential family members and friends are to recovery. Depressed people may be too indecisive or hopeless to seek treatment. When people are elated, they may fear that medication will take away their creativity and energy. Becoming thoroughly informed and using the following steps can help people with mood disorders understand what is happening to them and how treatment can help:
Avoid asking friends and relatives for help who are pushy, disinterested, inept, or rigid. Attempts to involve them in your recovery can delay progress. Be cautious of bad advice. Input that makes you feel worse about yourself is probably not correct. Be especially careful of people, self-help groups, and even professionals who tell you that medication is a crutch. Do not argue with bad advice or try to make others understand. Thank people for their concern and tell them you’ll consider what they are saying.
Antidepressants and mood stabilizers are safe and nonaddictive. Side effects will go away with time and “experimenting” to find the most effective medication. Sedating antidepressants are important when insomnia accompanies depression. Tranquilizers such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan can aggravate depression, but when prescribed with an antidepressant can be helpful. Stimulants such Ritalin and Dexedrine are energizing but should be prescribed only under special circumstances in conjunction with antidepressants. The herb Saint-John’s-wort can be taken when people are reluctant to use medication if they are not sun-sensitive, at risk for cataracts, or need rapid results. However, prescription medication is necessary for many depressed people and most people who have had a manic episode.
Counseling is very important when depression is related to a past trauma, a recent loss, or troublesome thinking, behavior, and interaction patterns. Even when medication alone eliminates all symptoms of depression or mania, some counseling is important to help people understand the nature of their disorder, future need for medication, and ways to reduce stress.
NATIONAL NETWORKS AND SUPPORT GROUPS
Because mood disorders often cycle or reoccur, it can be enormously helpful to share experience and wisdom with others who have traveled the same path. Many communities have a local chapter of Depression and Manic-Depressive Association listed in the newspaper or phone book.
Resources can be found by calling local mental health centers. There are national networks, newsletters, Websites, and books that offer additional assistance: