Depression treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions
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Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about depression?
Yes, you can. A healthcare provider from Maple would like to know about any symptoms or signs of depression that you’re currently experiencing. They’ll also want to discuss your personal and family medical histories, as well as any history of mental illnesses that you or your family may have.
The healthcare professional will likely want to arrange a physical exam to help rule out underlying physical conditions that could be causing your depression. They may also suggest additional lab testing, including blood work. In some cases, the healthcare provider may refer you to a psychotherapist for a psychological evaluation.
Once the healthcare professional is able to offer you a clear diagnosis on your depression, they’ll be able to suggest appropriate depression treatments.
Can I get a prescription on Maple?
Yes, our physicians can prescribe medications for depression online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription for depression, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered right to your door at no additional cost.
You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.
What is depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that results in feelings like sadness, lethargy, and loss.
This condition is very common, affecting as much as one sixth of all people at some point in their life. It can appear at any time in life, but most frequently occurs between the late teens and mid-20’s.
Depression symptoms can affect how you think, feel, and behave, which can lead to a number of physical or emotional issues. This could manifest as interference with your work, withdrawal from your loved ones, or even suicidal thoughts.
There are a few different types of depression that each have specific features. Your healthcare provider may use them to help identify your specific type of depression, and the associated depression symptoms you’re experiencing. Some of these types of depression include:
- Peripartum onset (occurring during pregnancy)
- Catatonia (severely affecting motor activity)
- Atypical features (accompanied by delusions or hallucinations)
- Anxious distress
- Melancholic features
- Psychotic features
- Seasonal pattern
- Mixed features
There are also a number of underlying conditions that can cause depression as a symptom. Some of these include:
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Bipolar disorders (both I and II)
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Chronic disease (i.e., obesity, addiction, etc.)
What are the symptoms of depression?
The signs of depression can manifest differently depending on your age and gender. Depression symptoms can have a huge impact on your daily life, and for people experiencing depression, it can be a difficult topic to discuss.
If a loved one is showing signs of depression, you may need to help guide them towards medical assistance in managing their condition. Noticing the signs of depression can be a critical step towards getting them the help they need.
The most frequently occurring signs of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes that normally bring joy
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Bursts of anger, frustration, or general irritability over inconsequential issues
- Lowered sex drive or loss of interest in sex
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Fixating on past failures
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts
- Unexplainable physical issues (headache, aches and pains, etc.)
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Missing work or school for extended periods of time
- Feeling misunderstood by peers
- Avoiding social interaction
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Not wanting to leave the house
- Cancelling plans that previously excited them
What causes depression?
There are a few different factors that are believed to potentially cause depression. However, there are no definitive answers on what exactly causes depression.
The most common factors that are believed to cause depression to develop include:
- Brain chemistry
- Family history of depression
- Biological differences
- Medical conditions
- Chronic pain
- Drug use
- Personal history of mental illness
- Low self-esteem
- Prolonged or severe stress
- Chronic or severe illness
- Being part of a social minority (LGBTQ, having a disability, racial minorities, etc.)
- Environmental – continual exposure to poverty, neglect, abuse, and violence
Are there different levels of depression?
Yes, depression can come in different levels of severity. They can have different online depression treatment methods.
- People mild depression, or high-functioning depression, experience symptoms a few days a week. In some cases they return on and off for several years. The symptoms are bothersome, but they don’t get in the way of your daily life. It’s possible to go undiagnosed when you have mild depression because the symptoms mimic so many other illnesses.
- For people with moderate depression, symptoms start to interfere with responsibilities at home, work, or in your social life. Medication and therapy are two common interventions. It’s important to speak to a psychiatrist or family doctor about which medication is best for you. Avoid self-medicating through the use of drugs or alcohol. Doing so could make you feel worse in the long run.
Severe or major depression
- When someone has severe depression, they’re unable to live a normal life because of their symptoms. All aspects of life are affected by the illness. People with severe depression are more likely to have thoughts about self-harm or suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling this way, it’s an emergency. Contact an emergency suicide phone line if you feel that anyone is in danger.
How is depression diagnosed?
Before providing a depression diagnosis, the healthcare provider will want to perform a physical exam, as well as potentially schedule you for a complete blood count. This blood test will check to make sure your thyroid is functioning properly, and that your vitamin and hormone levels are normal. The healthcare provider will want you to meet with a psychotherapist, who can perform a psychological evaluation. They can also check your condition against the criteria for depression listed in the DSM-5, if necessary. This is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Once the healthcare team is able to provide a clear depression diagnosis, they’ll be able to suggest depression treatments geared towards helping treat your specific needs. This includes any possible prescription depression medications you may need.
How is depression treated?
Regimens to treat depression can include psychotherapy, psychoeducation, and prescription depression medications. Treatment options can be used independent of each other or in combination.
If you have severe depression, the doctor may suggest a hospital stay, or for you to participate in an outpatient depression treatment program.
What are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs for depression in Canada?
The most commonly suggested prescription depression medications include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants, e.g. Elavil
- Atypical antidepressants, e.g. bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), e.g. escitalopram (Lexapro), citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac),
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), e.g. duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) e.g., phenelzine (Nardil)
Other medications like trazorel (Trazodone), a serotonin modulator that enhances antidepressant effects
If you live in Canada, antidepressants are available from our doctors online. It may take some time for them to find the right combination of depression medications and dosages that will work best for you, and sometimes require switching antidepressants. Your doctor will also help monitor for signs that your antidepressants are too strong.
Be sure to always follow your doctor’s instructions clearly, and never stop taking your antidepressants without talking to your healthcare provider first. Halting certain antidepressant prescriptions without first lowering the dosage can lead to negative withdrawal symptoms.
When to see a doctor for depression?
If you’ve begun to show signs of depression, you should talk to your healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will be able to do an assessment to see if your depression could be caused by an underlying physical condition. They’ll also be able to refer you to a psychotherapist that can help you work through the emotional strains that accompany depression.
They’ll also be able to offer any prescription depression medications, like antidepressants, that you may need to manage your symptoms.
If you believe a loved one could be showing signs of depression, but you don’t know what to do, talk to a healthcare provider. They can offer guidance on how you can get your loved one the help they need.
Can chronic stress cause depression?
Yes. Chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression if you aren’t coping with the stress well. You may frequently be in a bad mood, your productivity may decrease, your relationships may suffer, you may develop sleep problems, and you might even find it difficult to go about your normal daily routine.
Is always being tired a sign of depression?
Yes, fatigue, or always being tired, is a sign of depression, but your lack of energy could have many other causes. In depression, a lack of energy appears as a condition called anhedonia and is generally accompanied by a loss of interest in things you would normally enjoy, low mood and a lack of focus. Consulting with a mental health physician can help you understand the cause of your fatigue.
What is Maple?
With Maple, you can start talking to a healthcare provider about your depression symptoms in a matter of minutes, and get antidepressants through our online service if you qualify. We’re a healthcare app for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors and healthcare professionals.
You simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.
Our healthcare team can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary. In addition to a general practitioner, if you live in select provinces and territories, you can also see a mental health physician or psychotherapist on Maple.
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