Am I Depressed?
Do you feel withdrawn and disconnected from yourself and from loved ones? Have friends or family noticed a shift in your personality or mood? Do you lose your temper easily or feel irritated? Do you feel hopeless or think about suicide? Perhaps you go through your day feeling a bit flat and unable to make decisions?
If you think you may be suffering from depression, know that you are not alone. Depression is one of the most common reasons people consider therapy. And, most people have been living with depression for longer than they recognize. Depression is often misdiagnosed or untreated and may begin to feel familiar and normal. Seeking proper consultation and treatment is vital. Ruling out any medical causation (thyroid conditions, hormonal levels and drug/alcohol reactions) is an essential part of a careful evaluation.
What is Depression?
Depression, as opposed to feeling sad or “blue,” can interfere with daily life, in intimate relationships, friendships, parenting, and work. If you suspect that you are depressed, it is important to seek help. Depression comes in various forms and can be mild, moderate or severe.
Although there are common symptoms of depression, individual differences exist. Women experience higher rates of depression, relating to life cycle, hormonal, and psychosocial factors (pressures between work and home, parenting, abuse, relationship strains). Men tend to experience depression differently than women and are more likely to become irritable, angry and tired. Men tend to use work to avoid talking about feelings. Often, with untreated depression, individuals medicate the condition with drugs and alcohol. Keep in mind that depression can be treated effectively and recovery is promising with the appropriate treatments. The earlier the therapy begins, the better the outcome.
Common Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Hopelessness or pessimism
- Guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities/hobbies, including sex
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite and weight loss
- Thoughts of suicide
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease or have no known medical origin
What Causes Depression?
Research has shown some types of depression tend to run in families, while others do not. Depression is caused by a combination of factors, including biological, genetic, hormonal, environmental and psychological ones. Alcohol and other drugs may cause or augment the feeling of depression. It is important to diagnose the kind of depression you have so that you receive the appropriate treatments. Please feel free to Contact Me with any questions or concerns and to schedule an appointment.
Types of Depression
There are many differs types of depression. Here are some of the categories of depression:
Loss or Trauma
Loss of a loved one, difficulties in an intimate relationship, past experiences of neglect, poor parenting, physical and sexual abuse or specific traumas can all trigger depression. It is vital to receive an in-depth evaluation from a well-trained psychologist to ascertain the underlying causes (loss/mourning/trauma) who will address familial, medical, cultural, and social issues as well as the whole being—both psyche and soma. Please look at my website pages on Loss and Mourning as well as on Trauma.
Dysthymia is a mild yet enduring form of depression that can come and go over many years and typically is absent for no longer than two or three months at a time. This milder form of depression might go unrecognized until the individual begins therapy and notices a difference in their mood and interactions.
Major Depression: Mild, Moderate or Severe
This form of depression usually interferes with work, sleep, appetite, relationships, and lasts longer than 2 weeks. People with major depression may find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning; often they have early morning awakening. They feel a sense of hopelessness, sadness or numbness. Immediate consultation or treatment is important. Together, we will devise an individual treatment plan tailored to your issues. Please Contact Me.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you typically feel depressed during the winter months when you are deprived of less sunlight, you may have a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Depressive feelings generally lift with the onset of spring and summer. Light therapy, psychotherapy and antidepressant medications can reduce the symptoms alone or in combination.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and Perimenopausal Depression
PMS and PMD are associated with hormonal changes that occur around ovulation and prior to menstruation.
Perimenopause: Prior to menopause, some women experience an increase in feeling depressed or emotionally flattened. Anxiety may also accompany these hormonal fluctuations. A hormone specialist in alternative or integrative medicine can effectively treat the physiological and hormonal fluctuations. Some women sail through perimenopause while for others, the hormonal shift wreaks havoc on their identity, moods and daily life. I provide therapy or consultation to women who are experiencing the challenges of their hormonal fluctuations whether it occurs on a monthly basis or “it’s that time in life.”
Following the birth of your child, you may experience “the blues.” There are many changes happening in your lif–hormonal shifts, physical and emotional responsibilities along with sleep deprivation. If your condition is mild, or simply “the blues” it should pass as you begin to adjust to your new role. Post-partum depression, however, is more profound and results in interruptions to daily life and functioning. Immediate treatment is essential in order to get you and baby back on track. I invite you to contact me for a complementary 10-minute phone consultation or to schedule an appointment.
Other forms of depression
Depression with psychotic features is a severe depression accompanied by some psychotic symptoms such as hearing things (hallucinations) or misperceiving situations/false beliefs (delusions). Immediate evaluation and treatment by a psychiatrist is recommended or a visit to the emergency room.
Bipolar Disorder, otherwise known as manic-depressive disorder, is less common than major depression and is characterized by mood swings or cycling from highs (mania) to lows (depression). Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Immediate evaluation and treatment is recommended. If you have a history of hospitalization for this disorder, please seek treatment from a psychiatrist or a psychologist who specializes in this area. I work with people with bipolar disorder who have been stabilized on medications and committed to seeing a psychiatrist for medication monitoring on a regular basis.
Treatments for Depression
For mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy alone may be used solely to treat the symptoms of depression. I will conduct a thorough assessment over the course of 2-4 sessions in order to provide feedback and an agreed upon treatment plan. A more holistic, multi-layered approach is suitable. Here are the main approaches to alleviate symptoms of depression:
- Psychotherapies (Psychodynamic, CBT, AF-EMDR)
- Attachment Focused-Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Gentle Yoga
- Exercise (30 minute brisk walk in am or early afternoon)
- Dietary and Nutritional Changes
- Medication Consultation and Management by a Psychiatrist
- Alternative Medicine (Mild-Moderate Symptoms)
Addressing The Costs and Benefits of Therapy for Depression
Indeed, therapy is an investment, and often, there are financial sacrifices. You must decide the cost and benefits of the therapy versus the relational, emotional, psychological and physical health toll and the consequences of not attending to the reasons that bring you to this page?
Studies demonstrate the individual and societal toll of ignoring accumulative upsetting stressors, anxiety, depression or traumatic experiences on one’s soma/psyche/spiritual being. When therapy addresses the whole person, and moves at a pace that feels safe while affording new insights, processing old or new wounds, it leads to greater physical health as well as to living a more satisfying and meaningful life.
Are You Feeling Ambivalent About Starting Therapy?
It is common to feel vulnerable or anxious about beginning therapy. Who would not feel some trepidation about entering a room with a stranger and exploring one’s life? In fact, if that ambivalence were absent, it would be unusual. To pick up the phone to and schedule an appointment takes courage.
Since symptoms of depression include lethargy, a decrease in motivation and difficulty with decision-making, you may find it challenging to initiate calling and setting up an appointment. Please, consider reaching out to a friend, a primary care physician or family member who is willing to help. Depressive disorders are not a “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” life experience. You may also Contact Me by email.
What You Can Expect from Therapy?
I provide a safe, warm, non-judgmental atmosphere for you to explore, discover and process your experiences, beliefs and emotions that may be contributing to your depression. I will offer you feedback; recommendations and a treatment plan to pursue the proper course of therapy with the aim of alleviating or diminishing the pain of living with depression.
I work collaboratively with you and with any outside professionals who are a member of your treatment team (psychiatrists, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists, and naturopathic doctors).
Together, we will set your goals for therapy and re-evaluate them as the treatment progresses. I am actively engaged in your therapy and an attentive listener, respectful of the space you wish or need to create. I provide an eclectic array of therapeutic skills based on my 25 plus years of education, training, teaching and practice.
In general, the goals of any good therapy is symptom reduction, gaining therapeutic techniques that you can apply on your own, and changing one’s internal landscape which leads to growth, stabilization and restoring your mind-body relationship to harmony.
I invite you to Contact Me for a complementary 10-minute phone consultation or to schedule an appointment.