Therapy for Depression
Depression occurs so often in the population that it has frequently been called the “common cold of psychopathology”. Biological, psychological, stressful life events and cognitive factors, all contribute to one’s vulnerability to depression.
Sadness and the Blues
It is normal from time to time to feel sad or get the blues. That is part of life. Depression is different than having the occasional low frequency day. You may have depression if feelings of emptiness and despair are ever present in your life. These feelings of hopelessness and despondency make it difficult to even get through the day sometimes.
You need to know that no matter how despondent you feel, it can be ameliorated and you can once again enjoy life. Becoming aware that you are depressed is often the first step to overcoming the problem. Understanding the signs that you have depression and the related symptoms can move you closer to releasing this dark cloud from your life.
Are you Depressed?
Depression is much more than sadness. People feel sadness or downward mood swings as natural reactions to life’s stress, setbacks and disappointments. The word “depression” is often used to describe normal feelings of sadness, however depression is much more.
The Black Hole
When people are truly depressed they describe the feelings of being in a black hole they can’t get out of. They express feelings of emptiness, apathy, and hopelessness. They may even feel restless, angry and aggressive. When someone is truly depressed, they often feel so hopeless that they don’t even try to reach out for help because they don’t believe anything can help.
Experiencing depression can feel overwhelming and helpless and you may have deep and consistent feelings of worthlessness. These intense and insistent feelings can interfere with every aspect of your life including work, friends, eating, sleeping and of course, having fun.
Signs of Depression:
- You have lost your appetite or you overeat consistently
- You can’t concentrate
- Previously easy tasks are now more difficult
- You feel helpless and hopeless
- You are much more irritable, moody or aggressive
- You are engaging in irresponsible behavior
- You have pessimistic thoughts that you cannot control
- You consume more alcohol than normal
- You have thoughts that life is not worth living (if this is how you are feeling, seek help immediately)
Types of Depression
There are a variety of types of depression. Each type has unique causes and symptoms and is expressed differently. It helps to know what type of depression you have so that you can be guided toward the most effective treatment.
The symptoms of major depression are constant, ranging from moderate to severe. If left untreated, this type of depression on average lasts about six months. During a lifetime, some people experience a single depressive episode. More often, major depression is a recurring disorder. With major depression, there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Dysthymia (recurrent, mild depression)
Dysthymia is a chronic “low grade” form of depression. Although you may have short episode of normal moods, with Dysthymia you have more days than not where you feel moderately depressed. Although the symptoms of Dysthymia are not as intense as major depression, they last a long time, typically at least 2 years.
A more chronic form of depression, the symptoms make it challenging to remember better days or to live a satisfying existence.
If you have had Dysthymia for a long period of time or for most of your life, you may think it is part of your personality. It is possible that your symptoms have gone unrecognized and untreated. Dysthymia can be treated.
There is a small segment of the population that can experience major depressive episodes along with Dysthymia known as “double depression.” Both can be treated successfully.
With Bipolar Disorder, a person will have cycling mood changes alternating from depression to manic episodes. Bipolar disorder can include hyperactivity, rapid speech, impulsive behavior, and difficulty sleeping. Usually the change from one mood extreme to the other is gradual with each episode lasting for at least several weeks. Major depression is the type of depression exhibited with bipolar disorder, but because this major depression is associated with bipolar, the treatments are very different.
Depression and Risk of Suicide
Depression is painful. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way out of the pain. Take serious note if you have a friend or loved one who is suffering from depression, and talks about or displays behavior pointing to suicide. Learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide.
Warning signs of Suicide Include:
- Talking about killing or hurting one’s self
- Expressing an unusual obsession with death or dying
- A sudden change from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Acting reckless or irresponsible as if they have a death wish
- Giving away cherished possessions
- Expressing things like “Everyone would be better off without me”
- Getting affairs in order
If you are Feeling Suicidal
If you are feeling suicidal, know that there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time, so please reach out for help! In the United States, call 1-800-273-TALK or visit Suicide.org to find a helpline in your Country.
If Someone you Love is Suicidal
If you think a family member or friend is considering suicide, express your concern and seek professional help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life!