Depression Disorders & Symptoms*

What is Depression?

At different times, each of us gets sad, lonely, upset or down. In everyday language, we might say that “he’s feeling depressed” or “my partner is very down – she must be depressed.” For mental health professionals, diagnosing someone with clinical depression is very different than a person experiencing some depressive symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, when the depressive symptoms last most than two weeks ands are severe enough as to affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working, you might be experiencing signs of clinical depression or another similar condition.

What are some signs and symptoms of depression?

The following are a list of symptoms that may indicate the existence of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

What are some risks that can lead one to experience depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.

Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.

The following are a list of risk factors that may result in depression or depressive symptomology:

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  • Birth of a child
  • Death or serious illness of a loved-one.

Free Resources and Publications

The National Institute of Mental Health offers several free publications about Anxiety Disorders. Please click on the links below to view the following publications:

How can I help you?

While professional help in the form of talk-therapy is very effective in helping people who suffer from clinical or “everyday” depression, sometimes the conjoint use of medication is beneficial. I work with my clients using Marriage and Family Therapy models and techniques which look at the whole person and do not focus on diagnosing. When you come to my office and we meet each other and work together, I don’t look at you and see “depression” or a “disorder”, but, rather, I see a person who has entered into a relationship with depression and we work together to better understand that relationship and make it work for you.

Some therapists or psychologists are focused on your diagnosis and treating the “problem.” My focus, on the contrary, is working holistically with you as a person and individual to strip-away your outer, protective layers and explore what’s hiding under the visible surface. I take pride in working with you at a pace that works for you – not me – and in a sensitive and supportive manner which respects your current situation. Essentially, I meet you where you are. I am happy to work along with other medical or other professionals who may be a part of your treatment team.

I’ve been feeling down for a while. Maybe there’s just no hope?

Loss of hope for future change is a very common feeling among people who are experiencing depression or depressive symptoms. It makes sense that the longer you have been experiencing symptoms, the more difficult it might be for you to see a different future. That is okay! I don’t expect you to come to our first session and be ready or able to envision a different reality. You are not the problem – the problem is the problem – and I will work side-by-side with you to help create the necessary space for you to begin to allow hope and change to take the place of feeling sadness and being stuck in the quicksand of despair.

I’m anxious about therapy. How do I calm my fear of the unknown?

The focus of my treatment for you will be present-focused, goal-oriented, and collaborative. I firmly believe that clients play an active role in therapy. We will discuss various anxiety treatment options, and discuss the pros-and-cons of each modality. Progress towards goals is measured throughout therapy so that my clients see their growth over time.

I strive to create a therapist-client relationship which is warm, compassionate, and supportive. It is my belief that therapeutic change stems from the quality of the relationship that exits between the client and the therapist. Therefore, adequate time in therapy is spent on creating not just a safe, confidential, and trusting relationship between clients and myself, but a genuine connection where clients feel heard, understood, and important. 

*The information provided on this page is for general information use only, and is not specific to nor intended to be applicable your particular situation.

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