Are you regularly feeling sad and tired? Have your eating and sleeping habits changed for the worse? Do you feel helpless, and does the future seem hopeless? Do you no longer experience pleasure from life? Have you considered suicide? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may be suffering from depression.
Depression is a serious illness that involves one’s physical body, feelings, and thoughts. It interferes with daily life and normal functioning and causes pain for both the person with the disorder as well as friends and family. Depression is more common than many realize. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression during any one-year period.
Forms of Depression
Depression comes in many forms (or diagnoses). Some of the diagnoses you may be aware of include Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, and Mood Disorder. These disorders differ by the constellation of symptoms that define them. An accurate diagnosis is critical for effective treatment. Please contact FPFS for more information.
Culture, Age, and Gender Features of Depression Culture can influence how depression is experienced and therefore communicated. For example, in some cultures depression may be experienced as physical symptoms such as headaches and tiredness, while in other cultures depression may be experienced as feelings of sadness or guilt. The core symptoms of a Major Depressive Disorder are the same for children, adolescents, and adults, although certain symptoms may be more common among certain age groups. Studies indicate that depressive episodes occur twice as frequently in women as in men.
Causes of Depression
As with many mental illnesses, a variety of factors appear to be involved in depression. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- Brain chemistry. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. In particular, neurotransmitters – naturally occurring brain chemicals linked to mood – are thought to play a direct role in depression.
- Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose biological family members also have the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
- Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result from thyroid problems, menopause, and a number of other conditions.
- Life events. Events such as the death or loss of a loved one, financial problems, and high stress can trigger depression in some people.
- Early childhood trauma. Traumatic events during childhood, such as abuse or loss of a parent, may make one more susceptible to depression later in life.
Treatments for Depression
Depression isn’t just a bout of the blues; depression isn’t a weakness; nor is depression something you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that requires purposeful and intentional treatment. Here are some of the ways depression is treated:
- Individual Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is an intentional interpersonal relationship used by trained psychotherapists to help you with the problems of living. During psychotherapy, you learn about the origin and nature of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and you learn how to respond to challenging situations with healthy coping skills. This typically occurs during weekly sessions with your psychotherapist, each session lasting 50 minutes. Two types of psychotherapy commonly employed by therapists are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common type of psychotherapy. With CBT, you work with a psychotherapist in a structured way in which specific treatment goals are established, agendas are used to guide each session, homework is assigned and reviewed, and progress is frequently measured. By helping you become aware of and change inaccurate and maladaptive thinking, CBT helps you view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. There is good deal of empirical evidence that CBT is effective for the treatment of a variety of problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Psychodynamic Therapy. Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on changing problematic behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering their unconscious meanings and motivations. Psychodynamic Therapy is characterized by a close working partnership between therapist and patient. Patients learn about themselves by exploring their interactions in the therapeutic relationship. Psychodynamic Therapy has a strong research base demonstrating its effectiveness.
- Medications. Many patients suffering severe levels of depression improve significantly when taking carefully chosen antidepressant medications. Several types of antidepressants are used to treat depression, and they show the greatest benefit for those individuals suffering from severe levels of depression. These medicines must be prescribed by a medical professional such as a psychiatrist; FPFS therapists do not prescribe medications. However, with your approval, we will work with your physician/psychiatrist on your behalf to help coordinate your treatment.