What is Depression?

Depression is a common and yet very serious illness. Research approximates that one in ten adults report experiencing depression at some point in time. Most people who suffer from depression experience their first bout of depression by the time they are in their late teens.

While everyone feels sad from time to time, depression is far more severe. This form of extreme sadness tends to last for at least several days and interferes with one’s ability to carry out normal daily activities. In some cases, depression can even result in physical pain.

Depression Symptoms

Depression can affect different individuals in different ways. Most people who suffer from depression experience at least some of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Prolonged feelings of emptiness or sadness
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Individuals battling depression may also experience problems coping with day-to-day stressors. They may feel alone and helpless. Even the most mundane of daily tasks, such as personal grooming, can feel impossible.

Depression is also commonly associated with shame, fear, and anger. Those emotions can manifest in other symptoms, such as nausea, pains, and body aches.

The symptoms of depression can vary significantly from one person to another. In many cases, depression symptoms can vary based on gender and could even vary throughout the course of the illness. Women tend to be more likely to admit to experiencing depression than men. Age can also contribute to the way in which the symptoms of depression manifest. For example, adolescents battling depression may appear more irritable and agitated than do their older counterparts who are also experiencing depression.

The Causes of Depression

Depression is believed to be caused by a combination of biological, genetic, social, psychological, and environmental factors. Individuals who have a family history of depression as well as those who have serious chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease, have an increased risk of depression. Additionally, major life changes, stress, and trauma, can result in a depressive episode. In some cases, bouts of depression may start without any apparent external trigger.

Physiological and environmental factors are also believed to be related to depression. It is further believed that brain chemistry could play a role in depression. The level of neurotransmitters present in the brain could play a role in an individual’s risk for experiencing depression.

In some cases, a family history of depression could also place an individual at greater risk for developing depression.

Therapy: Help is Available for Depression

It should be understood that depression is not an indication of weakness nor is it something that you can just decide to stop or snap out of. Depression is an actual illness and as such, requires professional treatment. With the right treatment, it is possible to feel better and lead a productive life. Depression is actually one of the most common reasons why people seek help from a therapist.

For many people antidepressant medications can help to reduce the symptoms associated with depression. This is particularly true for individuals with severe depression. Other forms of treatment include psychotherapy, which has proven to be effective at treating depression, either on its own or in combination with medications.

Working with a Counselor

A licensed counselor/therapist can provide you with a variety of treatment approaches to help you recovery from your depression. For instance, a professional can help you with:

  • Identity realistic future goals.
  • Identifying life events that might have contributed to your depression and assist you in identifying ways that you can accept, adapt, or change those situations.
  • Identify unhelpful behaviors or thought processes that could be contributing to your feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Develop coping skills for handling symptoms

Two of the more common therapies used for treating depressions are interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that can help you to learn how to identify as well as manage negative behavior and thought patterns that might be contributing to your depression. While participating in CBT, you will learn how to identify and change inaccurate or distorted beliefs, change behaviors that could worsen your depression, and find ways to interact with others more positively.

Interpersonal Therapy

This form of therapy is focused on helping you learn how to improve your relationships with others. This is done by learning how to express your emotions more positively and resolving problems in healthier manners. Interpersonal therapy can help you learn how to adapt to or resolve disturbing life events. It can also assist you with building social skills and relationships to improve your support system for coping with life stressors and depressive symptoms.

It should be kept in mind that there is not a single right approach to depression treatment and therapy. An experienced therapist will work closely with you to custom design a treatment plan based on your unique needs. Psychotherapy can assist you in learning how to better cope with the stress in your life and manage your depression symptoms.

Depression can also make it difficult for people to interact with others. It’s not uncommon for individuals who are battling depression to find it difficult to seek comfort from even the people closest to them. As a result, depression can interfere with sexual intimacy and communication between partners. The ways in which this manifests can vary from one person to another. For instance, while one person might appear more clingy or needy, another person may grow more distant during bouts of depression. Individuals who share their lives with someone battling depression may also benefit from therapy, including family therapy and couples counseling, to learn the best techniques for supporting themselves and the person battling depression.

If you are battling depression, do not wait to get the help you need. With the right help, depression is highly treatable.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.