Everyday it’s a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. You feel fatigued and listless during the day, and when you try to think of things you could do you struggle to find motivation for any of them.
If people reach out, you don’t feel like talking, and it feels like there is a wall between you and the rest of the world. Negative thoughts cycle through your mind, causing despair. Time goes by and days repeat. You feel trapped and like you’re just playing out the string.
If any of the above feels familiar, there’s a good chance you may be struggling with depression.
Depression can be a crippling condition in which even everyday tasks start to feel unbearable.
Common symptoms include:
A pervasive feeling of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
Strong feelings of worthlessness, sometimes accompanied by guilt
A loss of interest or pleasure in many or all activities that were once enjoyed
Significant increases or decreases in appetite, which may be accompanied by changes in weight
Sleep disturbances such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or excessive sleeping nearly every day
Persistent fatigue that makes even small tasks seem difficult
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Withdrawing from other people and social activities
Recurrent negative thoughts, which may include thoughts about suicide
Additionally, while depression is often thought of as a single condition, there are several different forms of it, including
Major depressive episodes, which involve periods of low mood and hopelessness and where it becomes extremely difficult to function at work, to sleep, and to maintain relation-ships.
Dysthymia involves less intense but more long-lasting symptoms, persisting for two or more years continuously. People with dysthymia might also encounter episodes of major depression in their lives.
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a condition where a new mother falls into a major depressive state within a month after childbirth. It’s estimated that PPD affects between 10-15% of women postpartum.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that shows a seasonal pat-tern, typically appearing during the darker winter months and receding with the arrival of spring and summer.
Bipolar Disorder is marked by extreme mood swings ranging from periods of excessive high spirits or irritability lasting several days, to episodes of deep sadness and despair, often separated by intervals of normal mood. These mood variations are usually coupled with noticeable shifts in energy levels, decision-making ability, and behavior.
What causes depression?
While there’s no single cause for depression, and genetics can play a role, there are a number of life events that may make it more likely that a person will become depressed.
Any major change in our relationships, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce or separation, or the end of any other romantic relationship can engender symptoms of depression, as can on-going relationship conflict or persistent loneliness.
Chronic stress as work, as well as job loss and financial difficulties, can be triggers. Major life changes, such as moving away from friends or family, taking care of a newborn, or developing and coping with a medical condition can all also spur on depression.
Recurrent invalidating experiences are also significant contributors to depression. These experiences could include
Chronic mistreatment by important figures such as family members, supervisors, and significant others
Bullying and harassment by peers and coworkers
Repeatedly being the target of discrimination, as well as having aspects of one’s identity (e.g. gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs) disparaged or devalued
People often cope with symptoms of depression with alcohol and other substances, which over time can reinforce those symptoms.
How therapy can help treat depression
Hopelessness and shame are often the core feelings in depression–people feel trapped in their suffering as well as ashamed that they cannot readily explain or resolve it. Consequently, they withdraw from others, become more isolated and shut down, and experience worsening symptoms.
Treating depression involves helping people break this cycle of hopelessness, shame and withdrawal. The act of reaching out to a therapist is an important first step. Feeling heard and supported by a professional can reduce shame, and make it easier to start reconnecting with others.
Overcoming depression involves both taking structured steps to help people regain a sense of mastery and enjoyment in their lives, as well identifying and challenging underlying beliefs that may be fueling the depression.
Sessions may include identifying small daily goals around work, relationships and self-care, as well as trying to anticipate and address impediments to achieving those goals. They may also include exploring a person’s negative life experiences, both past and present, to better understand the beliefs that those experiences have fostered.
Oftentimes we hold painful, deeply felt beliefs that we have little or no conscious awareness of. As awareness of these beliefs increases, people can begin to reevaluate and potentially let go of them, giving space for life to feel less threatening and for hope to emerge.
I draw on several proven approaches to treating depression, such as cognitive-behavioral, insight-oriented, and interpersonal therapies, to help people establish a sense of well-being. Take that first important step of reaching out and let’s talk about how I can help you get on a path to feeling more energized and hopeful.
Do you want to explore what therapy could do for you?
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen
Many different emotional difficulties can contribute to depression. When anxiety interferes with our ability to pursue what’s important to us, depression often ensues. Trauma can radically alter our worldview in ways that fuel depression. Depression often coexists with low self-esteem and body image issues that make it hard to see ourselves in a positive light. People who are depressed may sometimes feel irritable and struggle to control their anger. Complicated and unresolved grief can lead to symptoms of depression.