What is Depression?
Life can be tough sometimes and feeling sad occasionally is a normal human experience. When sadness lingers though and is combined with feelings of hopelessness and a lack of interest or motivation, you may be struggling with depression. Depression can feel unshakeable - like no matter what you do, you just can’t quite feel better. You may feel tired a lot and have little desire to engage in activities you normally enjoy. Often, there may be no clear reason why you started feeling this way. In fact, from the outside, your life may look wonderful, yet...you just can’t get going.
If you identify with these feelings, please know you are not alone. Depression is quite common, and psychotherapy with a qualified clinician can help. You have taken the first step already by asking questions and seeking out services.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression runs on a continuum, from mild to severe and can vary depending on the person. Some people may experience chronic bouts of crying while others feel apathetic or report an inability to feel anything at all. One of the key factors in identifying clinical depression is it interrupts your ability to function in your daily life. A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder--the most common mood disorder diagnosis given-- involves exhibiting at least five of the symptoms listed below over at least a two week period.
- Depressed mood
- Diminished interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite
- Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
- Slowed movements
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Inability to concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying) or suicide
Depression may also manifest physically such as in unexplainable body aches, headaches, and other somatic symptoms. It is also important to recognize clinical depression is not the same as ordinary sadness or even the feelings of grief a person may experience as the result of a traumatic event. It is also important to note that you may not meet the full criteria for a depressive order but may still be experiencing subclinical depression.
As you can see, depression can be complex. Unfortunately, a mental health diagnosis isn’t like being diagnosed with cancer or diabetes where a blood test can give you a definitive answer.
If you feel you may be suffering from depression, it is important to reach out to a trained mental health professional.
Causes of Depression
The truth is, we do not always know what causes depression. There can be multiple factors that lead to clinical depression. A few of the factors we know contribute are:
Traumatic events, such as loss or being the victim of loss, can lead to depression. When something traumatic happens to an individual such that it overwhelms the person’s coping mechanisms, depression is often one result.
Systemic Inequality and Social Issues
Research indicates those who suffer from systemic inequalities such as racial, gender, sexual, or economic disparities (to name a few) are at a greater risk for experiencing depression. Our social world impacts our mental well-being.
Underlying physical conditions such as thyroid disorders, physical pain, and blood sugar issues have been shown to influence depression.
Genetics / Brain Chemistry
There is some evidence to support a genetic link in clinical depression, with studies suggesting that about 40% of depression can be attributed to depression. The remaining 60% is due to environmental factors such as those mentioned above.
How Teletherapy Can Help With Depression
In most cases, depression responds well to treatment. Depending on the underlying causes, there are multiple treatments that may work:
Talk therapy with a trained mental health professional has been shown to be highly effective for those experiencing depression. Psychotherapy allows you to work through traumatic events and other feelings you may be experiencing in a safe space with an unbiased therapist. Psychotherapy may help you develop better coping skills, reduce psychological distress, examine past events that may be contributing to your current patterns, change negative thought patterns impacting your well-being, and develop greater freedom for yourself through self-exploration.
There are different types of evidence-based psychotherapy and CHE employees psychologists of varying therapeutic orientations including:
- Cognitive Behavioral
- Humanistic / Existential
- Eclectic / Integrative
Teletherapy has been shown to be as effective as in-person psychotherapy for most mental health conditions. It is convenient and easy to simply log in and connect with your therapist. Most report enjoying the ease and privacy of connecting with their therapist from home.
At times, you may need to utilize medication to help alleviate depression. This is not always the case; however, if you find that your depression isn’t lifting, there are medications that may help.
Research indicates that lifestyle changes such as engaging in exercise, improving your nutrition, and meditation may help in reducing depressed mood. Typically, making lifestyle changes works best when combined with psychotherapy.
* If you feel you are experiencing a crisis that needs immediate attention or you believe you are a danger to yourself or others, please go to your nearest emergency room OR call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.*
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