Updated: Jul 9, 2022
It would be impossible to thoroughly discuss something as complex as depression in a mere blog post, but I am going to outline some important facts about depression as well as some additional topics related to the treatment of depression in this blog post.
What is depression?
Many people look at depression as having a depressed mood or simply being sad, but this is only one of many symptoms of depression that a person can experience. Some of the other symptoms, which I will list below, can combine to create a really challenging experience for people which will keep them stuck in a negative place for a long time. The combination of these symptoms as well as other mental health conditions can interact to be a very destructive and miserable experience for some people.
Symptoms of Depression
Depressed mood: Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, etc. This can also come out as irritability in children and adolescents.
Loss of interest/pleasure: No motivation to do anything, even things that you normally really enjoy.
Weight loss or gain: Depression can take away your appetite or make you want to eat more, and this can impact your weight after a time.
Insomnia or hypersomnia: Sleep patterns change, you might find yourself staying in bed all day, or you might not be able to sleep well.
Psychomotor agitation or retardation: You might find yourself fidgeting and having restlessness, or you may find yourself remaining especially still and lacking energy to move around.
Fatigue: Feeling tired, lack of energy, lack of motivation to be active.
Feelings of worthlessness/inappropriate guilt: Blaming yourself for things, attributing negative characteristics to yourself, being guilty for perceiving yourself as not being good enough.
Decreased concentration: Challenges with thinking clearly, making plans, making decisions, etc.
Thoughts of death/suicide: Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Passive suicidal thoughts without a plan (i.e. thinking that the world would be better if you weren't around). People also could begin to plan and attempt suicide in severe cases.
Prevalence of depression
According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), 18.5% of adults are regularly experiencing at least mild symptoms of depression in a given period of time and 1 in 6 adults will experience clinically significant symptoms of depression at some point in their life. For children and adolescents, it is estimated that 4.4% of children aged 1-17 have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. These studies were conducted in 2019 and it is possible that the prevalence has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated isolation that occurred during that time period.
Causes of depression
There are many theories about the cause of depression that have come in and out of popularity over the past decades. It is clear that there is a genetic component and an environmental component to some depressive disorders. Depression, like many other mental health problems, seem to run in families through both genetic and environmental factors. There is also strong evidence that trauma in childhood and disruptions to attachment relationships often bring about a pattern of depressive symptoms as an individual develops. Life changes can also cause depression, things such as going through a divorce, losing an important job, physical illness such as cancer, stroke, or coronary issues, financial stress, etc.
As stated above, depression can be caused by genetic factors, changes in your physical health, past traumatic experiences or experiences of loss, or social factors. It is important for any individual who is experiencing depression to check in with their medical doctor to determine if there are any physical health problems that may be contributing to the problem such as changes in hormones or an underlying illness. At Arise Counseling Services, I provide treatment for the other factors described above. I help people to explore the underlying causes of their depression such as attachment disruptions, trauma, or other dissatisfaction with life. There are many different ways that I can help once these causes are identified, and I will list some of them below.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): We will work together to analyze your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to examine how these impact one another and cause your symptoms to be worse. Then we will work to change how you think about issues in your life and what you believe about yourself and the world.
Behavioral activation: We will set up clear behaviors that you can practice to help you to overcome your depression such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, getting dressed and doing at lease one productive thing each day, getting more physical exercise, eating routine meals, etc.
Treating trauma: When you feel safe and comfortable, we will examine any traumatic experiences that you have had related to loss of attachment relationships or changes to how you view yourself so that you can stop having the effects of trauma intrude upon your daily life.
Examining attachment: I have found that disruptions to attachment relationships in childhood frequently bring about depressive symptoms, and that when something happens such as a divorce of a child's parents, the child is very likely to blame themselves for the divorce and carry forward negative attitudes about him/herself as a result of the belief that they caused their parents to split up. I work with clients to process these beliefs and to examine the impact that this has had upon them throughout their lives.
Narrative therapy: I encourage clients to examine their personal characteristics and life journey and to rewrite their story so that they can change the way that they look at themselves and the trajectory of their lives.
For more information
If you would like to learn more about any of the treatments above, please contact me and I would be happy to help. If you would like some professional help dealing with your depression, feel free to schedule an appointment with me today or reach out to discuss your options. You should also subscribe to my blog and continue to follow because I intend to write more specific posts about the treatments that I use in the future.