What is depression?

Depression is a serious mental health condition. Also called major depressive disorder, depression results in overwhelming negative emotions, such as sorrow, hopelessness, or worthlessness. Unlike typical feelings of grief and sadness that subside with time, the emotions associated with depression don’t go away. Over time, they can harm your work or school performance and interfere with your ability to perform daily tasks and maintain personal relationships.

Depression can last for months or years. Over time, depression has an adverse effect on your physical health and increases your risk of additional mental health disorders, such as anxiety or substance abuse.

Why do some people experience depression?

Researchers don’t know for sure what causes depression or why some people get it when others don’t. However, having a family history of depression does increase your risk for the condition. Brain chemistry, hormone levels, and nutritional deficiencies likely contribute to depression.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Chronic illness 
  • Chronic pain
  • Physical or sexual abuse 
  • Trauma
  • History of substance abuse
  • Environmental stress
  • Economic difficulty

If you have anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or a history of substance abuse, you also have an increased risk for depression.

How to tell if you are struggling from depression?

If you experience ongoing, extreme feelings of despair and hopelessness that prevent you from enjoying life, cause you to avoid social situations, or interfere with your ability to meet obligations, you may have depression.

Other common symptoms of depression include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Decreased energy
  • Sleep disturbances
  • reduced appetite
  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Suicidal thinking

Long-term depression increases your risk of addiction, heart failure, and coronary artery disease.

What are thoughts I may have if I’m depressed:

  • Are you feeling empty, helpless, unmotivated?
  • Disappointed
  • Alone?
  • Are you feeling that life has passed you by?
  • That while the rest of the world and the people you know are enjoying life, finding career and relationship success, you’re stuck in first gear, or maybe even going backward?
  • Have you lost interest in the activities that used to excite and inspire you?
  • Are you having difficulty sleeping—or difficulty getting out of bed?
  • Increased appetite, or no appetite? 
  • Does your world and your life seem kind of colorless, as you just get through your day, only to wake up and do the same slog tomorrow?
  • You may wonder if it will always feel this way.

Most people experience a level of depression at some point

You’re not alone! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in 2014 approximately 15.7million adults in the U.S. age 18 and up had at least one episode of major depression in the past year. Not all depressed feelings are major depression, so the actual number of people dealing with depressed mood is significantly higher.

Think of depression as being on a continuum, from a disappointment that takes over for a brief period of time, to a low-grade chronic depressed mood, to a deeper experience of depression, to a major depressive episode, to fleeting suicidal thoughts, to actual suicide. And all the steps in-between.

Depression in the life cycle

Depressed mood is common throughout the life cycle. Does one of these descriptions fit you?

  • You’re a young adult starting your career after college and realizing you’ll no longer get summers off and that you’ll be working for the next fifty years.
  • You’re a new parent (especially a new mother) adjusting to life with a baby and wondering if you’ll ever sleep or have sex again. Maybe you feel too distraught or exhausted to take care of your baby. You can’t stop crying except when you’re enraged, and you feel that the walls are closing in.
  • You really wanted marriage and children, and you haven’t been able to find a partner, and/or your biological clock ran out of time.
  • You’re an empty nester adjusting to a life that may feel empty after your child left for college.
  • You’re an older adult who realizes you haven’t achieved all you dreamed you would have by now, and what you have achieved feels empty.
  • You’re a retiree who no longer feels a sense of purpose.

There are reasons why you struggle with these milestones.

You’ve been told that achievement equals happiness and you’re seeing that although you have significant achievements, you’re not happy.

Or you’ve been told how special you are, but you’re finding out that you have limitations, that it’s not all happily-ever-after.

Maybe you’ve approached life as checking a series of boxes (bachelor’s degree, advanced degree, high-status career, relationship with a partner who looks good, children, big bank account, large apartment or house), instead of living with gusto because it’s satisfying, and you’re not seeing the big payoff.

In fact, you’re feeling that it was all pointless.

Depression as reaction to loss

Maybe you’ve experienced a significant loss—divorce, death of a loved one, loss of your health, loss of a meaningful career—and you’re having trouble getting past the sense of devastation, so even thinking of how to start a new chapter in your life feels impossible.

When you’re depressed it can feel as though you’ve always been depressed and that you will feel this way for the rest of your life.

The good news is that there is help and hope through working with an experienced and compassionate therapist.

You can feel better!

How we can help

Therapy with a skilled and warm therapist can be incredibly helpful in dealing with depression. I can help you learn to cope with the symptoms, including overwhelming feelings, negative thoughts, and low energy, and help you confront and understand the root causes.

A therapeutic approach deals with both symptom reduction and a deep understanding of the root causes.  All in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding, in an interactive experience of mutual listening and talking.

The depression treatment a skilled therapist can offer is based on a real and empathic relationship, and you will start to feel better over time from being thoroughly understood, learning that your situation is not hopeless, and learning to become a more active participant in your own life.

It’s a sign of strength to know when you need professional help—and to follow through and get it!

Is treatment for depression expensive?

Yes, depression is expensive! Depression steals the satisfaction from every aspect of your life. The costs of depression are immense:

  • your joy in life
  • your ability to model an enthusiastic optimism for your children, if you have them
  • your enjoyment of your relationships and friendships
  • your productivity in your career
  • your physical health
  • Depression treatment is an investment in yourself—for yourself! It also greatly benefits your family, your friends, and your work. How can you afford not to get treatment for your depression?

Do I have to take medication?

Everyone’s different.

Some people benefit from talk therapy alone and never need medication.  Others benefit from talk therapy plus medication for a period of time.  We’ll work together to determine the best course of action for you, and if that is ultimately adding medication to the talk therapy

You can feel better!

One gauge of mental health is satisfaction in love, work, and play. Depression prevents you from feeling satisfaction in your relationships, accomplishments, and leisure activities.

If depression is keeping you from fully enjoying your life, we can help.

Depression treatment with an experienced therapist can help relieve your symptoms and help you develop an optimistic outlook that will get you through the worst of times and allow you to enjoy the best of times.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment please contact us at 815-515-0010 or fill out the form below.