As a primary care physician this is a topic that I have become all too familiar with, as it is a very common reason for someone to show up in my office. Many of the patients I have come in with the diagnosis for years, others leave my office with the diagnosis after some careful discussion. In parts of our society treating your mental health is still not widely accepted, and most of the time it's because a willful ignorance when the topic is approached. The best example I give my patients is that if you broke your arm you would see a physician to get treated so if you were depressed why wouldn’t you do the same.
Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in the general population and the most common mental health condition in patients seen in primary care. But unfortunately very few actually attempt to seek treatment or even discuss their symptoms with their doctor. A majority of the patient will not come to the office saying “I’m depressed”, many of them will show up at the office with vague complaints from headaches, sleeping difficulties or chronic pain so imagine if your physician isn’t in tune to pic up these cues your depression continues to be undiagnosed. Not a week goes by where I see a patient with this disorder. My wife being a mental health therapist has really opened my eyes and helps me immensely when I’m taking the history of my patients in the office.
Clinical symptoms associated with Depression includes:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all activities
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Change in appetite or weight
- Psychomotor retardation or agitation
- Low energy
- Poor concentration
- Thoughts of worthlessness or guilt
- Recurrent thoughts about death or suicide
In my office I have seen a plethora of reasons why someone is depressed but here are a few of the most common reasons:
- Family history
- Female gender
- Childbirth (ie, postpartum depression)
- Childhood trauma
- Stressful life events
- Poor social support
- Serious medical illness
- Substance abuse
- Socioeconomic Status
Beck Depression Inventory for Primary Care
Treatment varies tremendously for depression so I wont go into detail on this post but please see your local mental health professional or primary physician if you are feeling that a lot of these symptoms may resonate with you.
If you're in the south florida area you can see my wife, Maria Davis-Pierre who is licensed mental health counselor. Day by Day Therapy