Depression: Understanding, Treating, and Managing It

What exactly is depression? Depression is a mental health disorder described by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities. It is more than just feeling sad or down or experiencing temporary mood swings. Depression affects a person’s whole being, including thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, often interfering with daily life and functioning.

Symptoms of depression

Depression includes many symptoms, such as constant sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness. There is a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities. Some people experience changes in appetite and weight (either significant weight loss or gain), insomnia or excessive sleepiness, and fatigue or energy loss. It is hard for those with depression to concentrate, make decisions, or remember details. Sometimes there are feelings of guilt, worthlessness, self-blame, restlessness, or irritability. Lastly, people with depression often have recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of depression, contact our therapists for help. 

Depression can look different from person to person and can vary in severity, ranging from mild to moderate or severe. It is typically caused by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Traumatic life events, chronic stress, a family history of depression, certain medical conditions, and imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and norepinephrine) are believed to contribute to the development of depression. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing signs of depression, contact our therapists for help. 

Treatment for depression

Treatment for depression often involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication (such as antidepressants like Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac, to name a few), and lifestyle changes. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Antidepressant medications work by balancing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. If you need help managing your depression, call our office of professional therapists. They are trained in treating depression and will provide a safe space to process your feelings and find a solution. 

How to manage depression

When managing depression, a few steps can be taken outside the therapist’s office. First and foremost, establish a support system to share your feelings with friends or mentors who can offer support when needed. Connect with friends, family, or support groups who can provide understanding and encouragement in a non-judgmental manner. Group therapy can be beneficial for those suffering from depression. 

Second, try to avoid isolation. Depression often makes people want to withdraw and isolate themselves. While it may be challenging, try to maintain social connections and engage in social activities, even if it sometimes feels difficult. When feeling isolated is the best choice, rely on your support system for encouragement or company. 

Depression often involves negative self-talk and distorted thinking patterns. Negative self-talk is any inner dialogue with yourself that may limit your ability to believe in yourself and your abilities and reach your potential. The negative self-talk might even happen without you realizing it but try to become aware of your self-talk. Are you saying hateful things towards yourself, like “I’m stupid” or “I can never do anything right!”? Practice challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones. Those who frequently engage in negative self-talk tend to be more stressed. This is in large part because their reality is altered to create an experience where they can’t reach the goals they’ve set for themselves. Try to challenge negative thoughts. 

If you need help managing your depression, or think you may be suffering from depression, reach out to our therapists to receive help. Our therapists are trained in treating depression. Get help sooner rather than later to start living your life again. 

By: Lindsey Schmid, LPC-A

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