Is depression therapy for me?
Why depression therapy you ask? How can depression therapy help me? Every one of us experiences periods of sadness in our lives, which can definitely be helped by depression therapy. Major depression, however, which is on the other side of the severity spectrum,is a totally different ballgame, which can also significantly improved through talk therapy as well. Occasional sadness is part of the human experience and is usually only temporary, a smaller number of my patients will unfortunately experience serious and persistent major depression symptoms, which can last weeks, months,or even years especially if left untreated. Why suffer? Get effective help for your depression through Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in my offices in Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach if you’d like, or someone else if you prefer, but make sure not to put it off and get help as soon as possible, it’s that important.Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT means therapy focuses on your specific depressive thoughts and actions, and supports you though the process of changing them.
As a licensed clinical psychologist, I am often asked: “How common is depression actually?” “Will I ever get over my constant sadness and feelings of depression?” “What can I do about my depression?” “How long does depression last?” “Will medication help my depression or just make me dependent on pills?” among others. They are relieved to discover that depression counseling makes a significant difference in the patient’s overall quality life and is something they will benefit from on a daily basis. In Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach, as well as in Century City, Brentwood, and many other cities around Los Angeles and Orange County, depression is a rather common problem. Fortunately, the available resources in California particularly, as well as the entire US regarding this depression problem have improved in recent years.
Here are the latest depression statistics: 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization. 16.2 million adults in the United States—equaling 6.7 percent of all adults in this country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness 13 percent of young people ages 8 to 15 and 21.4 percent of those between the ages of 13 to 18 go through a severe mental disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerts us to the fact that 17 percent of high school students have seriously thought about ending their life in the past 12 months.
Women 25 to 44 “who are the primary caretaker of children under the age of 5 have very high rates of depression,” according to Carol Landau, who is a clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior and of medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.Also worth noting, is that women ages 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression (12.3 percent) of any group based on age and gender in the U.S., according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In all other age groups as well, women had higher rates of depression than men did. Conversely, 9 percent of men in the United States have daily feelings of depression or anxiety, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey. 30 percent of men have suffered from a period of depression in their lifetime, when measured by a “gender inclusive depression scale” that includes symptoms such as rage and risk-taking, according to a 2013 study in Journal of The American Medical Association in Psychiatry.
Depression is categorized as a mood disorder. To suffer from a mood disorder indicates that your general level of happiness or sadness no longer seems to follow a regular pattern and either drifts to extreme highs or lows (bipolar depression which is less common), or movesfrom a somewhat normal mood to depressed or even extreme depression where one cannot function or even get out of bed, but doesn’t ever get manic or abnormally elevated (unipolar depression). This will most likely affect the way you see and value yourself, how you see your future and opportunities or lack thereof, your often extreme sleepingand eating patterns that are either way too much or severely lacking, how you think which tends to be negative and fatalistic, your memory and concentration which have also been negatively impacted, your lack of motivation, or even avolition in more severe cases where nothing matters or is of any importance, your reduced or non-existent desire to socialize and your diminished ability to experience any sort pleasure, even from things and activities you used to really derive joy and fulfillment from previously.
A mood disorder is far more than just a fleeting emotion; you just cannot snap out of it (hence the term disorder) as many people around you often tell you to do, you can’t wish or will it away, and it can last a very long time if it is not treated through talk therapy, combined with medication (depending of severity and duration of your depression symptoms) and behavior changes which support and reinforce your progress. However, appropriate and effective treatment such as Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, combined with medication in more severe cases, can reduce and sometimes even eliminate the symptoms. Medications help improve brain chemical imbalances, however, do not alter patient behavior. Support, understanding and accountability do in therapy for depression.
Types of Depression
Mood disorders are grouped under different headings. The three most common are Major Depression, Dysthymia, and Bipolar Disorder. We will also look at Adjustment Disorder but this it is not always included as a mood disorder. Each of these headings tries to group people into categories based on the symptoms they show. The label does not indicate anything about the causes of the condition and simply aims to categorize people into groups. There is room for difference under each heading, so not all people will share all symptoms and the degree of severity, and persistence will vary greatly.
Major depressive episode is the label used to describe a significant drop in mood that has lasted for longer than two weeks. It marks a change from the person’s usual way of being in the world. They might begin seeing themselves as useless and wish that they were dead or believe that the world would be better without them. They may find it difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy life. They may begin overeating or sleeping and start to withdraw or become tearful. The distinguishing feature is that it is a distinct episode, it is not a response to an event, and it does not match the person’s usual way of functioning. However, some people have long lasting episodes, and some have recurring episodes. Although depression can run in the family, it is common for people to experience depression even in the absence of a family history. Either way, major depression is frequently associated with changes in brain structure or brain function. This does not mean that psychotherapy will not work since psychotherapy also leads to changes in brain structure and function.
People who have low self-esteem, who are consistently pessimistic, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, are also more prone to depression. It may be wise for these individuals to seek psychotherapy as a means to potentially avoid episodes of major depression. Physical changes in the body can also trigger mental health problems including depression. Stroke, diabetes, heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and hormonal disorders can cause depression. The depression can contribute to the person’s medical problem, as then can become apathetic and unwilling to care for their physical needs. Various medications such as cortisone can also trigger severe depressive episodes.
Dysthymia is the label given when an individual suffers from a low grade but a long-lasting form of depression. People diagnosed in this way usually don’t experience the same depths of sadness and remain able to function on a day to day basis, but they go through life feeling unhappy and unsatisfied and occasionally do also experience major depressive episodes. I have found that many clients who carry this diagnosis benefit from longer-term psychotherapies in which they gradually come to understand how their minds work and how it is that they came to function in this way. These insights can go a long way in helping people make changes in their lives, which will then affect how they feel.
Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression) is less common than the other mood disorders and often runs in families. Those with bipolar disorder will have mood difficulties that don’t only shift into the extreme lows, yet may (there are different forms) also change into extreme highs or agitated states. The highs are called mania and the lows depression. An important feature is that the shifts are not mood swings. They usually don’t occur over a period of minutes but rather days, weeks, months or even years. Rapid mood swings (e.g. minutes) can also point to other emotional difficulties.
The depressed state can seem identical to a major depressive episode except that antidepressant medication can trigger a manic episode in those with bipolar. Individuals in the manic stage often have abnormal amounts of energy, racing thoughts, are talkative, agitated, set grand goals, spend without considering the consequence and may become hypersexual. People in this state make poor decisions that can have long-term effects e.g. giving their home away or leaving their loved ones. If left untreated, a manic episode can progress into a psychosis in which the individual loses touch with reality, E.g. believing that they are Jesus or extremely wealthy, etc.
Individuals with a bipolar diagnosis are often highly successfully, particularly when they take their situation seriously. We know that medication can be effective in controlling these moods and we are aware that individuals who attend individual or group psychotherapy have fewer episodes of extreme mood than those who don’t or those who use medication alone.
Adjustment Disorder is not usually included under the heading of mood disorders although the symptoms and treatment are often identical. The label of adjustment disorder is applied when someone’s emotional breakdown can be linked to an identifiable stressor e.g. retrenchment, loss, move to a new town, or relationship breakup. The label is only used if the reaction is thought to exceed that which would ordinarily be expected e.g. being unable to think or function at all for several months following a relationship breakup. An adjustment disorder can be characterized by depressed mood, anxiety, behavioral changes or a combination of all of the above. They may last a few weeks or several months depending on a variety of factors. Many of the same risk factors for depression will apply for adjustment disorders. I find that each individual’s reaction usually becomes understandable when one considers all the facts about their life and personality. Arriving at this understanding is helpful since it allows the individual to see why they responded in this way and what areas they need to work on.
Symptoms of Depression and Mania
The following lists are far from complete. Everyone experiences a unique combination of symptoms and not everyone who is depressed or manic will show all of them. Similarly, how severe the symptoms are will also vary from person to person and can change over time.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”, thinking in syrup
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
- Abnormal or excessive elation
- Unusual irritability
- Decreased need for sleep
- Grandiose notions
- Increased talking
- Racing thoughts
- Increased sexual desire
- Markedly increased energy
- Poor judgment
- Inappropriate social behavior
There we have it, my guide to depression; I hope you learned from it and can take confidence that depression isn’t a rare problem. In the country, in your state, city, town, and neighborhood, there are many people struggling with depression. Thanks to our improved understanding of the problem, we’re in a stronger position than ever before to provide solutions.
If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to learn more about how we can help, please feel free to get in touch with me today. As a psychologist in Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach, I’m passionate about helping those with depression and helping them to lead a more confident and fulfilling life. Why not contact me today?
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