WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Despite being one of the most common mental health challenges worldwide, depression is probably among the most misunderstood illnesses in modern life. Yes, depression is an illness. It is not a character flaw. It is not a sign of weakness, or poor choices. Therefore, clinical depression is not something you should expect yourself or your loved one to “snap out of.”
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
Genetics, brain biology and chemistry, early childhood experiences, physical and emotional trauma, and unhealthy stress can all be contributors to this illness. Depression can happen at any age, and can occur alongside any number of parallel psychological and medical challenges.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M DEPRESSED?
Depression involves a number of potential symptoms, with different symptoms appearing in different individuals. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies the following as potential signs and symptoms of depression:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Persistent physical symptoms
It is wise to check with a trusted primary healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, as some physical health conditions (including some viruses and thyroid disorder) can produce these symptoms. If your doctor rules out physical causes, you may wish to consider a psychological evaluation.
OK, IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS?
Yes. Though it may seem impossible, there is in fact some good news about depression:
You are not alone. Many, many people from diverse backgrounds have experienced, and recovered from, severe depression. One of the cruelest symptoms of a serious depression is not to be able to really believe that recovery is possible. Recovery is possible. If you’re needing some inspiration, check out this list of people who have experienced or are experiencing major depression.
Depression is treatable. Both psychotherapy and psychiatric interventions (and the combination of the two) have been shown to have measurable impact on depressive syndromes. If you’re not sure where to begin, contact us and we can walk through it together.
HOW CAN PSYCHOTHERAPY HELP?
Several approaches to psychotherapy have demonstrated significant influence in well-designed studies on the treatment of depression. I incorporate techniques from these modalities, according to the specifics of each individual, to provide effective, targeted support when and where it matters most.
There is no standard, one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Different individuals are in need of different support. However, if you decide to seek treatment through psychotherapy with Clear Springs Counseling, you my expect our approach to include some combination of the following:
Lifestyle Evaluation and Support: There are several critical lifestyle factors that have been repeatedly linked to depression. These include alcohol and drug use, exercise and nutrition habits, and social connections. While it can feels like a grueling task, establishing healthy habits (especially when it’s difficult to do so) is a core component of recovery.
I think of this component as pushing the car until we can get a spark from the engine. If we get a spark but there’s no momentum, the car may not start. If the car is already in motion, then even a small spark may get it running again. Pushing the car is a grind, but it is worth it in the long-run.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Techniques: One contributor to depressive cycles is the content of our thought process. Depressive states often feed on unhelpful interpretations of our interactions, environment, and ourselves. Our emotions and our thoughts can get stuck in mutually-reinforcing and wholly unhelpful cycles.
By developing an awareness of these thoughts as interpretations and developing a healthy skepticism about them we can slowly disempower those disempowering thoughts, and begin to maintain an openness to alternatives. This can be a slow process, but it is also very dependable. Because of the way brains work, when we examine our thinking critically we inevitably move towards greater freedom and creativity. In exactly the same way a muscle grows through stimulation, we can stimulate new parts of the brain to come online.
Unconditional Therapeutic Relationship: Humans are deeply and fundamentally social animals. Because of this, isolation is among the most damaging experiences a human can experience. Our goal is that every single time we sit down you feel genuinely seen, cared for, and understood. We will not pretend to know what it’s like to be you, to suffer exactly as you suffer. But we can and will provide a caring, clear, and stable presence in your life.