Blood Tests and Depression.

Patient

Q: I am a 19 year old female. I have been struggling with depression for about 5 years now but have only recently been able to talk about it with a counsellor. She thinks I should get on antidepressants and I do to, but I don't know how to ask how. I also have trouble sleeping and am always tired, which I know can be part of the depression, but sometimes I wonder about other things such as hormones and levels of iron or stuff like that. Would getting blood work done be a good thing? Should I get it done before or after I go onto antidepressants?

Symptoms:  Prolonged fatigue, headaches, occasional nausea, body aches
Doctor

A:   Hello,
Thanks for using "Ask The Doctor" for posting your query.
It would be wise to get blood work done before you start with antidepressants. Many times, anemia or hypothyroidism may mimic depression. But if they come normal then you should meet your doctor and get yourself started on antidepressants. Depression is not diagnosed by blood tests.
This condition can be corrected with the help of medicines such as fluoxetine, mirtazapine or venlafaxine. These medicines start showing improvement in 2-3 weeks and the illness requires a treatment of 6-8 months. During this period, try to do regular exercise and eat healthy food and try inculcating some hobby. If you averse to medicines, then cognitive behavioural therapy can help you in the treatment of depression. This is a specialized counselling technique mastered by clinical psychologists and is almost as effective as medicine.
You may meet your doctor and get these medicines prescribed, or you can request for a psychologist consult.
Hope this helps,
Wish you a good health.

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