What You Need to Know About Depression

Unsure if what you're feeling is depression or just sadness? Here's how to tell

Person comforting man

It's perfectly normal to feel sad every now and then. But what if that sadness seems to extend for days, or even weeks or months? 

You might have depression. And despite the fact that depression and extended feelings of sadness might make you want to isolate yourself from others, it's important that you reach out. The sooner you're able to receive the help you need, the sooner you'll start to feel better. 

One online resource is On To Better Health, which is a program around emotional health and wellness. Among other tools, it includes screening software and a resource library.

Here are some of the most common signs of depression:

  • An “empty” feeling
  • Lack of energy, or fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Frequent crying
  • Irritability or anger
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • A hard time focusing
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide (if you’re having suicidal thoughts, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255)

If you have several of these symptoms and they last more than two weeks, talk to your doctor, says the National Institutes of Health, and ask about treatment options. Your doctor will determine if you are experiencing depression, a different health problem like a thyroid disorder, or a medication side effect.

Treatment Options
The two main types of treatment options are talk therapy and medication, or a combination of the two.

Talk therapy is counseling with a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist, or another emotional health expert. Therapy sessions can help prevent feelings of depression and identify any issues that may be causing you to feel this way.

Depression medication generally refers to antidepressants, and there are a range of them on the market. If your doctor feels medication might be appropriate, he or she will discuss options with you.

Different approaches and combinations work for different people, and your doctor will help determine the right treatment for you. Both therapy and medication do not necessarily show instant results, so know that treatment may be a process that takes time.

Other Effects of Depression
Depression and loneliness are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal issues, and they can weaken your immune system.

Fight Isolation
Spending time with friends and family doing activities you enjoy can help counter depression. Consider engaging in your community in the following ways:

  • Volunteer
  • Join a book club
  • Take a fitness or dance class
  • Start a new hobby
  • Get active in local organizations

The most important thing you can do when struggling with depression is ask for support, both professional and personal. Know that you are not alone.

For any questions regarding mental health coverage, benefits, or providers, please call the Mental Health/Substance Abuse phone number on the back of your member ID card.

Don’t forget you can visit the Behavioral Health section of ibx.com 24/7 and access Magellan’s On To Better Health self-assessment tool.* This assessment offers confidential online access to self-help tools and resources proven to help emotional health and wellness. The resources include screening software and a resource library. Learn more.

For any questions regarding mental health coverage, benefits, or providers, please call the Mental Health/Substance Abuse phone number on the back of your member ID card.

*Magellan Behavioral Health, Inc., an independent company, manages mental health and substance abuse benefits for most Independence Blue Cross members