Have you been feeling like things are taking longer for you to do or are you having a difficult time getting motivated to do your normal daily activities?
Are you sleeping too much or not enough?
Have your eating habits changed without you trying to make these changes?
Do you ever feel physically sluggish or restless ?
Are you feeling sad, depressed or despondent?
Are you finding things you once used to enjoy no longer bring you the same joy as they once did?
Have others around you noticed you are not acting like yourself or appear down most days?
If you said yes to most of these questions and feel like your life has been negatively impacted, keep reading to learn more about depressive disorders and how to better manage.
What is depression?
It is generally normal to have occasional days where you may feel tired, unmotivated, sad or just not feeling like yourself. It is also normal to feel this way after a loss or when you are grieving following upsetting events. Clinical depression is more than this. Clinical depression can be chronic in nature and on-going long after initial grief, or not in response to any particular events. Doctors can diagnose several types of depressive disorders and these diagnoses depend on how long you have been struggling as well as the severity of your struggle. For instance, if you are depressed more days than not over a two-week period or more and have many of the issues above, you may be struggling with major depression. Additionally, if your depression has lasted for at least two years with other accompanying symptoms you may have what is now termed, persistent depressive disorder. In addition to these, other depressive disorders include seasonal affective disorder and perinatal depression. Depression can also accompany other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder. What often differentiate normal feelings of sadness. Clinical depression is the impact these feelings may have on your life.
As with many mental health conditions, depression has an impact on people of all different races, gender, ages or ethnicities. While women tend to suffer from depression in greater numbers, men also suffer from clinical depression. At times, symptoms may not always be clear and can look different in men and women and you may not realize that you are struggling with depression which is why telling your medical providers about any symptoms you experience is important.
If you feel you may be struggling with depression, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 21 million adults in the U.S. had at least one episode of depression in 2020 with women having higher rates of depression than men. In adolescents, there was an estimated 4.1 million individuals ages 12-17 who had at least one depressive episode in 2020. Additionally, of those examined, more reported having had two or more depressive episodes.
Depression does not have to stop you from living your life.
There is help
In 2020, 66% of U.S. adults and about 42% of adolescents who had depression indicated they received treatment in the past year. Through research we know depression responds to psychotherapy, treatment with medication or a combination of the two. There are also other forms of treatment for depression that does not respond to the initial treatment options. After an assessment with your healthcare provider, you can decide which treatment will best fit your needs.
Psychotherapy for depression
As with many other disorders, there are different forms of psychotherapies that treat depressive disorders. In general, it is recommended that you look for what is termed “evidence-based psychotherapy” which means the treatment has been tested and shown effective to treat the condition in question and that the provider has the expertise to provide this treatment to you.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that is effective in treating depression. In this treatment approach, you learn how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are linked. The therapist will help you change the way you think and behave in an effort to alleviate your emotional discomfort. There are many techniques that fall under CBT. One example is behavioral activation. With this technique you identify activities that you once enjoyed and increase your involvement in these activities. Research has shown that engaging in such activities is just as effective as depression medication in the short-term and more effective in preventing the return of depression.
Interpersonal psychotherapy is another form of evidence-based treatment that addresses depression. In this form of therapy, you and your provider will focus on reducing your symptoms by working to improve your interpersonal functioning. The idea behind this form of treatment is that difficult relationships with others can leave you feeling depressed and by addressing these difficulties, you can overcome your symptoms. One example of how interpersonal psychotherapy can be helpful is by enhancing your ability to participate, tolerate and engage in social relationships by addressing patterns in your relationships that may be leading to social isolation, avoidance or discord.
Treating your depression with an Evermore Wellness provider
It is important to understand that with treating any mental health condition, the first step is identifying and setting the plan or goal for treatment. It is important to know what you want to get out of treatment and what changes you are expecting to result from your investment in psychotherapy. Treatment can include educating you on what is expected with certain depressive disorders, how a diagnosis is made and how depression effects you personally. Therapy will offer you a safe space to discuss your concerns without feeling shame or guilt. It will also provide you with a plan for treatment that fits your specific needs and this includes techniques to reduce your discomfort, to understand why certain situations produce a specific response from you and give you the confidence to be in-control of your thoughts and actions.
Our providers are usually trained in several modalities to treat mental health conditions and we are always pursuing continuing education to assure we stay current with our knowledge of our profession. We use our experience to assure treatment is working for you and make changes as necessary during your treatment journey. If you ever feel that therapy is not working or if a technique does not fit your needs, our providers will work with you to make sure you are getting the most out of your care with us.
Does this mean you should expect you will never experience any depressed moods or symptoms of depression again after therapy? The short answer is no. As we said above, there are normal instances where sadness or other uncomfortable moods are the appropriate response to a situation or that the mood is fleeting and while uncomfortable, does not stop you from living your life. The goal for therapy is to have you live the most meaningful life you are able to, but not make your feelings go away. Sometimes negative feelings are important in that they guide us to live the life we want and keep the values we ascribe to.
Will I need medication for my depression?
Medication is another form of treatment. Medications will help alleviate the physical symptoms of depression and sometimes can help you reap the most benefits of psychotherapy. Without an evaluation, no one can tell you if medication, therapy or a combination of both is your best option. Medications do not cure depressive disorders. Medications can be provided to you by a medical provider including your primary doctor, a psychiatrist or a nurse with specialized training and licensure. While some states allow psychologists with specialized training to prescribe medication, New Jersey does not allow this practice. It is important to remember that while medication can and most likely will reduce or stop your depressive symptoms, if you do not address the reasons behind your depression or learn skills to better cope, your symptoms will return if nothing in your life is changed and you stop your medication.