Characteristics of depression are feelings, behaviors, and thoughts of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, anger, isolation, and even suicidality. These symptoms can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as bodily aches, digestive problems, and insomnia.
There are many treatments for depression, including psychotherapy (talking therapy), medication, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Here we will discuss what depression is, the different types of treatment for depression, and offer some advice on how best to cope with your current state.
What is Depression?
Depression within a person is complex. Many factors can lead to a person feeling depressed. For some, it is a neurological issue where our brain chemistry is off. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine may not be at the level the person needs to feel their best.
A person may have also experienced trauma that led them to have recalled memories as negatives in their life. These negative memories can trigger depressed thoughts and emotions when remembered as a reference for current experiences.
Unfortunately, our brain does not do an excellent job at delineating between experiences that seem similar on the outside but are quite different. Instead, our brain sees them similarly and, as such, brings up similar feelings that may not be the best fit for what we are currently going through.
Lastly, depression can stem from poor health management. If a person does not have access to or is not eating healthy, nutritious foods that help fuel the body, they may experience mood side effects. Similarly, if a person cannot get efficient amounts of movement throughout their day or sleep, this may play a role in their overall mood. Getting out in nature, being in the light and sun, breathing fresh air can also be helpful to our mood. Again, if a person does not have access to these things, they may experience a depressed mood.
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What are the symptoms of depression?
As mentioned above, depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, and anger. Physical symptoms can include bodily aches, stomach problems, as well as insomnia. These feelings are often accompanied by thoughts such as “life is not worth living” or “I’m not worthy/loveable/good enough.” Depression usually develops gradually over weeks or months and can stay for a short bout or long periods.
Depression can make it difficult to experience pleasure or interest in activities that the person once found enjoyable. Other symptoms include quick to anger or debilitating guilt/shame and withdrawal from socializing with others. However, there are many ways people cope with their condition, including therapy (talking), medication, addictions (substance use, sex, gambling, video games, etc.).
The following are the most common symptoms of depression:
- Depressed mood or irritability; feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, and anger.
- Decreased interest in activities that were previously enjoyed; loss of pleasure from normally pleasurable events.
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (oversleeping)
- Loss of appetite, weight loss, or increased cravings for food; reduced sex drive.
- Fatigue and lack of energy.
- Difficulty concentrating/focusing, remembering details, or making decisions.
Depression is a mood disorder that affects one’s thoughts (cognitive symptoms), feelings, and behaviors in various ways depending on the person.
Can therapy help with depression?
One of the most common treatments for depression is psychotherapy, or “talk therapy.” During this process, a professional will help you identify and change negative thought patterns that may be causing your depression symptoms. Some types of talk therapies are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), Rogerian therapy, experiential therapy, motivational interviewing, Gestalt therapy, psychodynamic, narrative therapy, etc.
Talk therapy helps in a variety of different ways. It may be helpful to identify negative thought patterns that may trigger symptoms when, on the surface, nothing is there to create these feelings. For others, it may be beneficial to identify triggers to the thoughts and feelings and understand what behaviors stem from these. The clinician can help you to determine what direction is best for you in treating your depression.
Many people with depression also have anxiety. For this reason, psychotherapy may be combined with different therapeutic models targeting both depression and anxiety. For some people, another therapy such as somatic therapy, yoga, exercise, or medication may also be helpful to improve the symptoms of both conditions simultaneously.
Treatment for depression often involves a combination of therapies that work best for you personally: talk therapy like CBT or IPT, self-help, connecting with others, or medications.
How many people suffer from depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in America, so you are not alone in what you are experiencing, with more than 16 million people suffering from depression at some point in their lifetime.
The World Health Organization estimates that over 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression, which is more than the population of North America.
It’s estimated that ~ 50% of those with a diagnosable mental illness, such as an anxiety disorder or mood disorder, have depression. In addition, depression can occur in children and teens who may not experience the same symptoms as adults (e.g., behavioral issues, incontinence, issues with eating, nightmares).
Most who have depression will get better as they work toward recovery by managing symptoms in treatment; however, up to two-thirds of those recovering from a first episode may experience another major depressive episode within five years. Therefore, it is crucial to continue using the skills learned in therapy to maintain the changes you work so hard to achieve.
How to cope with depression
Some tips for dealing with depressions include:
- Talk to a counselor or therapist
- Get regular exercise, eat healthily and sleep enough.
- Setup and maintain a structured daily routine.
- Build social support networks through family, friends, and community programs like meetup groups, 12 step groups, or an organized group like a church group.
Some other things you can do are: take time for recreation, participating in different self-care activities and routines, and focusing on self-love.
The most important thing is to remember that you’re not alone. There are so many people out there like you, and depression doesn’t have to have power over your future. If you need help now or in the future, know that The Better You Institute is always here for you.
Online Therapy for depression
Many people with depression and anxiety do not wish to see a face-to-face doctor or therapist.
Our online depression therapy and treatment offer the same treatment and follow-up that traditional in-person psychotherapy would provide without commuting. In addition, online services can provide convenience with flexible scheduling and location as long as the internet is accessible; no office hours need to be attended as appointments can occur in the comfort of your own home.