How your primary care physician can help with feelings of depression

Family Health
Jan 26, 2023

Have you been feeling down lately? Is your mood affecting your personal or work life? Have you noticed changes in your diet or sleeping patterns?

These are all signs that you may be depressed. And, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Depression is common in the United States. Around one in five people in the U.S. over the course of their lifetime will be diagnosed with depression. In any given year, about 10 percent of people in the U.S. have symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression.

Locally, St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care Physician Dr. Thomas Falace feels that number is even higher. He sees patients daily that struggle with symptoms of depression. Dr. Thomas Falace, St. Joseph's/Candler Primary Care Physician

“I would encourage people not to be afraid to go be seen by a medical professional. We are trained in this,” says Dr. Falace, who sees patients at our Islands primary care practice. “I see people all day long who have symptoms of depression that we are able to treat.”

To meet the medical diagnosis of depression, you must experience an interruption or interference with the way you typically operate, sustained on most days, the majority of the day for two weeks or longer, Dr. Falace says.

Your doctor will also rule out other conditions that can masquerade as depression, such as changes in your thyroid function, certain types of dementia or substance abuse.

Treating depression

Upon proper evaluation and correct diagnosis, your doctor can then recommend treatment. The two pillars of treating depression are medication and counseling. There are many different types of medications, and your doctor may choose one based on your symptoms.

For example, if you’re not eating and losing weight, there are medications that can help with depression but also stimulate appetite, Dr. Falace says. On the other end of the spectrum, there are also medications that can help with symptoms of depression but also may cause you to lose weight.

“There are lots of considerations that go into different options, but we always try to tailor medications for each individual patient,” Dr. Falace says.

The other option is counseling, and while either modality can be effective on its own, Dr. Falace says it is most effective when used together.

“There are resources in our community to refer people to counseling,” Dr. Falace says. “I always encourage people to take advantage of that.”

Preventing depression

If you don’t already, there are simple ways you can boost your mood and try to avoid feelings of depression. Dr. Falace recommends:

  • Staying active
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintain interpersonal relationships
  • Find hobbies and maintain those
  • Meditation, yoga or anyway that you find relaxes and destresses you
  • If you notice changes in your mood that are interfering with your quality of life, make sure you speak to a healthcare professional

In need of a primary care physician? Search our website to schedule an appointment with a SJ/C primary care doctor near you. 

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