Do you have problems sleeping, or problems waking up and beginning the day?
Have you been feeling worthless, guilty or helpless?
Are friends & family feeling like you are avoiding them? Maybe you are avoiding them?
We can help you overcome these and more uncomfortable feelings and begin to live again!
Identification and Treatment of Depression
Depression is one of the most common issues addressed in psychological counseling. According to the American Psychiatric Association, up to 25% of women and 12% of men suffer from Major Depressive Disorder in their lifetime. When symptoms are more severe and persistent, the individual is said to be suffering from clinical depression. As there is often a neurochemical component (involving brain chemistry) to this sort of depression, such individuals commonly make use of both psychotherapy and antidepressant medication.
Many individuals, however, suffer much less severe acute depressive symptoms, and antidepressants are not necessarily essential to the treatment process in these cases. In such situations, the patient works with the therapist to examine the causes and effects of his or her symptoms and patterns.
Depressed individuals commonly report a general lack of energy or motivation, along with significant changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns. Pervasive feelings of sadness and guilt are often experienced, sometimes accompanied by sudden fits of crying or irritability. The libido (sex drive) is often affected by an episode of depression, temporarily diminishing the individual’s desire and even ability to have sex. Activities the individual has typically enjoyed, such as hobbies or other special interests, are experienced as somewhat flat and less fulfilling while depressed. Not all of these symptoms are necessarily experienced by a depressed person, nor do they necessarily interfere with that individual’s daily life in a dramatic way. Many individuals, in fact, may experience a somewhat chronic sense of boredom, dullness or low energy, without even realizing they are likely suffering from some form of depression.
Seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring. It is more than just “the winter blues” or “cabin fever.” A rare form of SAD, known as “summer depression,” begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall. Seasonal depression affects an disproportionately high number of people living in the Pacific Northwest. If an individual suffers from a clinical depression or only manifests milder features of acute depression, the symptoms are very similar in quality.
The symptoms of depression are presented in the following Depression Self-Evaluation Checklist, adapted from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV TR.
Depression Self-Evaluation Checklist
Over the past two weeks have you been bothered by any of the following symptoms?
- Sad or empty mood
- Loss of pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Weight loss or weight gain, diminished or increased appetite
- An increased need for sleep
- Sleep difficulties, too much or too little sleep
- Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Indecisiveness, or diminished ability to think or concentrate
- A “leaden” sensation in the limbs
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If you answered Yes to five or more of the above, you are very likely to be suffering from depression.
Counseling, psychotherapy, or “talk therapy” is an effective treatment for minor, major, seasonal and clinical depression. Some cases of depression may require coordinating therapies such as nutritional support, light therapy or medication, however studies indicate that success in treating depression with medical or nutritional methods is twice as likely in combination with counseling. Medication alone should be your last choice and only used as a last resort. Although you will likely gain some short-term relief of the most outward symptoms of your depression, multiple studies have shown that medications don’t work very well by themselves in the long-term.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most popular and commonly used therapy for the effective treatment of depression, I have experience using cognitive behavioral therapy (a recognized evidence based practice) in the resolution of depression. I am also skilled at the application of family of origin and narrative therapy depending on the underlying emotional tides that drive my clients needs. I have also worked with co-occurring depression and anxiety, addiction, or relationship issues.