Sometimes we get the “winter blahs,” but there are those who find themselves feeling down for an extended period of time. What if it’s not just weather related, but actual depression? How do you know?
Depression is a very serious (but common) mood disorder that affects about 3.5 million of Canadians each year. While the change in season can trigger it, it’s not always the cause. Depression comes in many different forms.
The majority of those who met the criteria for a mood disorder suffered from major depressive episodes. Statistics Canada’s website details a wealth of information on mood disorders in Canada.
*Note that if you are feeling suicidal or fear you might harm yourself or others, call 9-1-1 or a crisis hotline immediately.
What is Depression?
It’s one thing to be sad about something that happened, but many people can bounce back from these situations and return to their lives. Others aren’t as lucky. When that sadness persists and affects a person’s mood, emotions, and behaviour over an extended period of time, it’s considered depression.
The symptoms can include lost sleep, loss or increase of appetite, difficulties concentrating, and these can affect both your personal and professional life. Depression can be triggered by anything, but the most common causes are:
- changes in brain chemistry,
- hormone levels,
- grief, or difficult circumstances.
Depression and anxiety are some of the most common disorders in Canada today. Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental illness is being addressed, and education is improving to create more understanding of the problem. The Government of Canada provides more information about depression on its website.
What’s more, depression is treatable. There are many people who have pulled through and gone on to live normal, happy lives. There’s no lifesaving secret to escaping depression, but with a combination of factors, it is possible to overcome depression.
Available Counselling Treatments
One of the first things you should do when you feel as though you cannot cope with your anxiety or depression is to contact your physician. He or she will be able to help you go over your options. One of the first suggestions should be psychological counselling.
A psychologist is a professional who specializes in mental health and studies behaviour. He or she will sit down with you, ask questions, and listen. They will want to know who you are and what’s bothering you. They can help you come up with some coping strategies, but sometimes the session itself, and unloading your feelings, can help tremendously.
Sometimes it helps to talk to someone about your problems, and it can be easier when you don’t know the person. Having that barrier between patient and professional can be very helpful. A psychologist is not there to judge you, but to help you.
Most health insurance plans will cover psychology as long as it is performed by a registered psychologist in the province where the services were rendered. Some plans will also reimburse the cost of a social worker.
A similar treatment is psychiatry. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health. The biggest difference from a psychologist is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, and much of their time will be spent going over your medication management. Psychiatry is covered under most provincial benefit plans and is not covered by private insurance.
Admitting you need help is the first step. There’s no shame in seeking treatment for depression. If you had a physical illness, you wouldn’t hesitate to talk to a doctor. Mental health care shouldn’t be any different. You have to take care of yourself, inside and out.
Some people tend to avoid medicating themselves, particularly when it comes to treating depression. For some reason, medicating for mental illness can seem like weakness by those who think they are strong enough to cope. The truth is, when depression hits, it’s indiscriminate. It can affect absolutely anyone, regardless of their mental fortitude.
There is nothing wrong with taking medication to cope with anxiety and depression—that’s what they’re there for. There are many anti-depressants on the market today that have been studied thoroughly for safety and effectiveness. The trick is finding the right one for you.
Your doctor may prescribe a particular drug, only to find that it’s not right for your needs. You may need to adjust the dosage or switch to a different prescription. Expect a few weeks of figuring out the most effective drug for your mental health. Your doctor will make you aware of any side effects to expect and will ask that you return immediately if something doesn’t feel right.
Just because one drug didn’t work, that doesn’t mean that others won’t. For example, one person may thrive on Effexor while it could cause drowsiness or dizziness in another. That other person may go back to the doctor and be prescribed Cipralex, and have no more problems. Every drug is different and may not have the same effect on one person that it has on another.
Most health insurance plans cover prescribed medication, including anti-depressants. Medication can save your life for other disorders and ailments; it’s no different with depression.
If you have a pre-existing condition, including depression, you should check with your insurance broker to see if services or medications related to your depression will be covered.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t treat your depression just because it isn’t covered. Your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health. Nothing should prevent you from taking care of yourself.
How Insurance Helps
When you have a mental illness like depression, it’s easy to feel both hopeless and helpless. Medication and therapy are expensive. It can cost a lot of money in the long term to battle your depression, and health insurance can help offset those costs for you. If you submit your claims to your insurance plan, you will get a portion of your money back, and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re taken care of.
Psychological visits are costly, but many of the health care plans will pay all or a portion of the costs. When you run short on money, it can make your depression even worse. It’s not worth it to NOT have a plan in place.
If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, you’re not alone. There are multiple professionals out there who can help you, starting with your doctor. If you feel that you need help and want to know if you’re covered, contact our office today and we will help you any way we can.
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take care of your mental health. You can’t give what you don’t have. When you’re not yourself, you can’t function properly—and help is available. Take a step in the right direction, and ask for it.