Many adults suffer from depression at some time in their life. This depression often takes the form of a major depressive episode.
This disorder is characterized by the presence of the majority of these symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (In children and adolescents, this may be characterized as an irritable mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
HOW CAN COUNSELING HELP?
Major Depression emerges from two causes. The most common is a neurochemical imbalance of the brain. The major neurotransmitter, Serotonin, is involved in feelings of wellbeing. Most causes of major depression are a result of low levels of this neurotransmitter. Medications such as Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft work on this chemical. Sometimes the neurotransmitter, norepinepherin, is involved in depression. Medications such as Effexor target this chemical.
The second cause of depression is dysfunctional thinking and belief systems. A negative and pervasive pattern of beliefs can lead us into depression.
Mental Health Therapy focusing on learning to understand and identify our dysfuctional thoughts that create the depression. Study after study show that therapy alone is effective, medication alone is effective and both together are the best solution. To understand more about how therapy helps you learn to change your thinking look at the description on cognitive behavioral therapy.
WHAT CAN I TRY ON MY OWN?
If you decide therapy is not for you, you still have options. Many self help resources exist for depression. Books and workbooks are abondant. Look for titles by medical or mental health professionals including The Feeling Good Workbook or Overcoming Distructive Beliefs, Feelings and Behaviors.
Depression is affected by many factors including the amount of sun light received, diet, drug and alcohol use and physical activity. For many individuals making changes in lifestyle is enough to relieve their depression. Try exercising at least 30-45 minutes, 5 times per week.
Make a list of 3 goals, that if you accomplished them you would have a sense of pride in your life. Break these goals down to very very small tasks that you can work on a little bit every day. As you find a sense of accomplishment the negative thinking that perpetuates the depression may gradually be relieved.
Talk to your doctor about the appropriateness of an antidepressant medication. In the last decade medication advances have made antidepressants far more manageable. Troublesome side effects and dietary restrictions that used to be required are no longer a problem with today’s antidepressant medications. For many individuals, medication alone is enough to restore the satisfaction in life they have been missing.
Many of life’s stresses and anxieties are unknown and therefore unmanageable. Mental health treatment is very effective aid in learning to understanding our individual reaction to stress. Once we do this we can quickly reduce and eliminate the symptoms of our stress and often manage the causes.