Depression in Women

Treating Depression in Women

Most women with depression get better when they get treatment. Reaping the benefits of treatment begins by recognizing the signs of depression. The next step is to be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional. Although depression can be diagnosed and treated by primary care physicians, often the physician will refer the patient to a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or other mental health professional. Treating depression in women is a partnership between the woman and the healthcare provider. An informed consumer knows her treatment options and discusses concerns with her healthcare provider as they arise.
Once identified, depression in women (and men) can almost always be treated by therapy, depression medicine called antidepressants, or both. Some women with milder forms of depression do well with therapy alone. Others with moderate to severe depression might benefit from antidepressants. Some women do best with combined treatment -- therapy and medications.
It may take a few weeks or months before you begin to feel a change in your mood. If there are no positive results after two to three months of treatment, or if symptoms worsen, discuss another treatment approach with your healthcare provider. Getting a second opinion from another healthcare or mental health professional may also be in order.
Along with professional treatment, there are other things you can do to help yourself get better. Some women find participating in support groups helpful. It may also help to spend some time with other people and to participate in activities that make you feel better, such as mild exercise or yoga. Just don't expect too much of yourself right away. Feeling better takes time.

Women, Depression, and Pregnancy

For women diagnosed with depression, the decision about whether to stay on medications during pregnancy is a complicated one that should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Depression medication taken during pregnancy does reach the fetus. In rare cases, some antidepressants have been associated with breathing and heart problems in newborns, as well as jitteriness after delivery. However, moms who stop medications can be at an increased risk of a relapse of their depression. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking antidepressants during pregnancy. Your doctor can help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
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