How FOLX Can Help with Depression

Explore targeted, compassionate depression care for the LGBTQIA+ community with FOLX. Access effective treatments and supportive resources.

May 16, 2024
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This article was clinically reviewed by Michelle Forcier, MD.

Introduction

Depression is more than just feeling down; it's a biological and medical condition that can deeply affect our emotions, physical health, and quality of life. Within the LGBTQIA+ community, factors like discrimination and stigma can exacerbate depression, highlighting the need for compassionate, specialized care. At FOLX, our clinicians are specifically trained to address the unique factors that impact each person’s mental health experience, providing empathetic support and personalized treatments that respect each individual's experiences.

This guide is crafted to empower you to seek the right support and understand how FOLX can help you navigate your mental health journey with respect and care.

How do I know when I should see a clinician about depression?

It may be time to seek professional help if you're experiencing persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness, or unexplained physical symptoms such as chronic pain or digestive issues. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and even self harm can be due to the medical condition of depression. For LGBTQIA+ individuals, these symptoms may also be accompanied by internalized negative feelings about one’s LGBTQIA+ identity, or anxiety about discrimination or rejection, which are important to address with a clinician who understands the complexities of LGBTQIA+ mental health.

Depression is more than just a low mood. Feeling better when you are depressed is not, repeat, not a matter of attitude or self will. Depression is a medical condition that has genetic and neurobiological components. Depression also often goes hand in hand with the medical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. While this might sound more complicated, it also means that depression and anxiety can respond to various types of medications and therapies. It can take some time to find the exact right treatment plan, but with patience, depression and anxiety are very treatable for most people. 

What kind of treatment options are there for depression?

FOLX clinicians provide a comprehensive range of treatments that cater to the diverse needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, including:

  • Medication Management: Antidepressants and other mental health medications can help address the chemical imbalances affecting your mood. Medications prescribed for depression can be very safe and effective. Read more about depression medications.
  • Talk Therapy:  Psychotherapy can be a place to explore your depression, along with new tools and skills. We offer therapy at FOLX (in select states) as well as referrals to LGBTQIA+ inclusive therapists across the country. Therapy may include: some text
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which are effective in treating depression by helping change negative thought patterns and improve relationship dynamics.
    • Mindfulness Techniques: Training in meditation and mindfulness to help manage stress and emotional regulation.
    • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): IPT focuses on improving relationships and communication skills to address interpersonal issues that may contribute to depression. It explores how depression affects relationships and vice versa.
  • Lifestyle Adjustments: Guidance on exercise, diet, and sleep, which can have a profound impact on mental health.
  • Medical Screening: Screening for underlying medical conditions that can impact mood like diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.
  • Support Groups and Community: Offering a space to connect with others who may share similar experiences and challenges, providing mutual support and understanding.

Note: There are some mental health diagnoses that may require working with a psychiatrist or other specialist, which FOLX does not currently offer, in which case we will help you find an LGBTQIA+ inclusive clinician who can help. If you have a condition that is best managed by working with a psychiatrist, we might be able to temporarily help bridge a medication that you are running out of while we help you access that care. 

Conditions that require additional psychiatric care for diagnosis, medication management, and follow up can include: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, various psychotic conditions, among others. Your wellbeing, health and safety are paramount to your team at FOLX. If you need more specialized psychiatric care, we will recommend this and our member team can assist you in finding appropriate, accessible resources for this important medical care. 

Is there anything I should prepare for my visit?

To make the most of your visit, consider documenting any significant changes in your mood, thoughts, health and lifestyle that you have noticed. Learn more about your family’s history of mood or mental health issues, if possible. Consider who your allies are, and what supports might help you through your depression. Also, think about any questions or concerns you might want to discuss, such as side effects of medications or specifics of therapeutic approaches. 

Having a comprehensive history of previous treatment modalities and medications can be helpful to develop a plan with your clinician.  Being open about your personal identity, including how your family dynamics, social environment, and workplace issues impact your mental health, can significantly influence the care you receive. Remember, your FOLX clinician is not here to judge you, but to help you feel better, so be open and honest with them to get the most out of your visit. 

Sometimes when someone suffers from severe depression, they might experience thoughts of self harm or suicidality. It is so important for you to be honest, and to disclose important information about your safety with your clinician. Coming up with a safety plan and how to interrupt thoughts of self harm or making a plan to act on suicidal impulses is critical to your care and safety. We understand this might be hard to talk about. Your clinician will provide a safe space to talk about these sensitive subjects in order to help you create a safe path to better health and wellbeing.

Note: If you are currently in crisis, you should reach out to a crisis resource immediately, in addition to booking a visit for longer term care.

Thanks to our partnership with Crisis Text Line, you can text ‘FOLX’ to 741741 to reach a live volunteer crisis counselor, 24/7. Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential text-based mental health support in both English and Spanish and is also available via WhatsApp or web browser

What should I expect during a FOLX visit for depression?

In a telehealth visit for depression, you can expect a similar level of care and support as an in-person appointment.You'll discuss your current symptoms, feelings, and any challenges you're facing. Your FOLX clinician will ask questions to assess your mood, thoughts, and behaviors. 

Together, you'll explore coping strategies, set goals, and discuss treatment options. Your clinician will offer support, guidance, and tools to help you manage your depression effectively. You will also have access to the care team after your appointment if you experience side effects or have additional questions about your treatment options. 

Other Resources / Further Reading

For more information and support on managing depression, you can explore additional resources:

  1. 5 Ways FOLX Supports Your Mental Health
  2. Depression Medications 101
  3. Ask a Clinician: Does Alcohol Make Depression Worse?
  4. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) - Provides information on depression and bipolar disorder, online tools, and support groups.
  5. National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network - A healing justice organization that actively promotes the mental health of queer and trans people of color (QTPoC).
  6. The Trevor Project - Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA+ young people.
  7. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Includes support resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

FAQs

Can depression be cured?

While some people experience complete remission of symptoms, others may find managing depression a long-term process. Treatment is highly personalized and can be adjusted to help you live a fulfilling life.

How does therapy help with depression?

Therapy provides a safe space to explore feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. It helps build coping strategies to handle life's challenges and understand more about oneself in the process.

Are there lifestyle changes that can help reduce depression?

Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and reducing alcohol or drug use can significantly improve symptoms and overall well-being. 

Does gender dysphoria impact depression?

Gender dysphoria can exacerbate depression due to the distress, social stigma, and challenges individuals face in reconciling their gender identity with societal norms, but not everyone with gender dysphoria experiences depression. Many persons will notice a reduction in depression symptoms after starting gender affirmative medications and care. Gender affirmative care may not fix depression but feeling more comfortable in your head and own skin can really help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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FOLX Health is the first digital healthcare company designed by and for the LGBTQIA+ community. Our services include primary care, gender-affirming hormone therapy including estrogen and testosterone (HRT), mental health care, sexual and reproductive health care, and fertility consultations. FOLX memberships give you access to LGBTQIA+ expert clinicians, peer support, thousands of LGBTQIA+ resources, and more. Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, or another identity, you can find LGBTQ-specialized health care that helps you meet your wellness goals. Get all the benefits of becoming a FOLX member and sign up today!

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