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Mental health Depression

Many people who experience depression try to brush it off. They think it will just go away. But often, left untreated, the symptoms of the illness worsen.

“If you don’t treat depression early, it gains momentum and strength,” says Dr. Prince. “It’s like a speeding locomotive. The faster it goes, the longer it takes to slow down. The brain changes and adapts to depression, and the distorted thinking caused by the illness becomes a habit.”

Different people respond to different forms of treatment. Some with the illness, like Chamique and Mike, need antidepressant medication.

Doctors believe that people who are depressed have reduced levels of certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, in the brain.

“These natural chemicals affect our feelings and thinking,” Dr. Prince says. “It’s believed that antidepressant medicines can help bring the level of these chemicals back into a normal range. It usually takes a few weeks before a person taking antidepressant medications begins to see things differently and feels relief from depression.”

People taking antidepressant medications must be monitored by their doctor. They must only discontinue the use of the medication under a doctor’s supervision.

“Stopping medication too soon, or abruptly, may result in the symptoms coming back,” says Dr. Prince.

There is often a stigma association with depression. Some see the illness as a sign of weakness. This perception prevents many people from seeking potentially lifesaving treatment.

“It’s a sign of strength to admit to yourself, first of all, that you have a problem, and to go and get help for that problem,” says Chamique Holdsclaw.

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