Depression may have you feeling like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.
You’ve lost enjoyment for all your old hobbies. You are no longer motivated to go through your normal daily routine. Maybe you feel worthless, your self-esteem has hit rock bottom, or you find yourself withdrawing from the world.
What is Depression?
Everyone experiences highs and lows throughout their lives. Its normal to have sadness or grief after things such as a job loss or losing a loved one. But when symptoms like this are persistent and you feel unable to recover or return to normal daily functioning, we begin to explore the possibility of depression. Depression can be experienced in many different forms:
persistent depressive disorder: Also known as dysthymia is a type of depression that is persistent and chronic. It differs from major depression in that it tends to be less severe, but is far longer lasting. You may find it difficult to feel any joy, even during celebratory moments in life. Your mind might be constantly stuck on the negative, and you don’t have much motivation to do more than the minimum.
major depressive disorder: Major depression tends to be a more intense form of depression that heavily impacts a persons level of functioning. Some people will have major depressive episodes in addition to an underlying persistent depression.
premenstrual dysphoric disorder: PMDD is a severe form of PMS that can include intense mood changes, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness that resolve with the onset of a women’s period.
seasonal affective disorder: SAD is a form of depression that occurs seasonally. Usually in the winter for people who live in areas the experience long winters. Reverse SAD occurs when an individual experiences it during summer months. Learn more here.
bipolar disorder: There are different forms of bipolar depression, but all are characterized by periods of elevated moods, or mania/hypomania during which you could experience increased energy, racing thoughts, and urges to engage in risky behavior. Those with bipolar depression also experience depressive episodes as well.
peripartum/postpartum depression: Depression that occurs in women before they give birth or after they give birth.
Signs and symptoms of depression
lack of motivation
persistent feelings of guilt
trouble sleeping or sleeping to much
loss of appetite
feeling bored all the time
thoughts about suicide
thoughts about never waking up
inability to concentrate
feeling hopeless about the future
how do I know if I’m depressed?
the thing is, depression doesn’t always show up the way you might think it would. We classically think of the person crying uncontrollably, unable to get out of bed for days at a time, who doesn’t eat, or sleeps all day. Don’t get me wrong, that is one form depression can take, but there are more subtle, and pervasive forms that people put up with for years because they never knew that what they were struggling with was actually depression. There are so many people out there who appear to have it all together. They have a successful career, a happy family, but crack through the surface and you would find a truly lost individual. Sometimes it takes the form of chronic irritability and lack of patience for your loved ones, other times it presents as feeling fatigued most of the time, and like you have to force yourself through each day. If your life just feels like its missing something, or that it did not turn out how you had wanted it to be for yourself, you could be struggling with depression.
How to deal with depression
Depression is complicated and is influenced by many factors. For some, depression can be influenced by, or be the result of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism. Its important to consult with a physician to rule out organic causes. The experience of depression is also shaped by our environment and life experiences. If you work at a highly stressful job, your home life is chaotic, or you’re being bullied or harassed, you might be experiencing feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Even a lack of healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper sleep can contribute to depression. Adopting life style changes such as eating healthier and limiting stress are a great place to start in managing your depression. If you lack the motivation to implement these changes, or they are not having the desired effect, psychotherapy may be necessary to help explore deeper psychological issues contributing to your depression.
Can’t I fix my depression with just medication?
Research shows that the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of counseling and medication. Medication can be a helpful tool for many people, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Think of it this way: If you were lost out at sea, medication is like a life jacket. It keeps you afloat. Therapy is about teaching you how to swim back to shore, gaining insight as to why you ended up lost at sea in the first place, and figuring out what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
Benefits of psychotherapy for depression
Therapy has been shown to be a very effective treatment for depression. In therapy, you gain insights into what environmental and psychological factors may be contributing to your struggles. By understanding more about how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors influence each other, you also gain an understanding of how and where to create changes to positively shape your life. Counseling can be a place to learn new skills to better manage difficult thoughts and feelings, and if your depression is tied to past traumas, it can be a place to successfully process through those experiences. Counseling can also help you to achieve a better sense of your personal values, and assist you in setting and reaching your goals.
Whats the next step?
You might be coming to the realization now that you’re probably struggling with depression. Sometimes these realizations are hard to swallow, and you might be feeling scared or overwhelmed. But know that understanding the problem is the first step towards working to fix it. Are you ready for real change? Contact me know to schedule a free consultation. You can tell me more about whats going on, and then together can determine if we will be a good fit for each other.