Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a common and severe medical condition that can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems, inhibiting a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Anyone can become afflicted with depression, even those who live in seemingly ideal circumstances.
The main contributing factors to depression are:
- Biochemistry: An imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
- Genetics: One can be predisposed, and it can run in families.
- Personality: Certain traits, such as low self-esteem, can increase one’s chances.
- Environmental factors: Certain life circumstances such as exposure to violence, neglect, or poverty can make someone vulnerable.
I want my clients to know that depression can be overcome, and it is not something they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Together, we can work through their symptoms and bring back their motivation and ability to feel happiness and fulfillment.
When is depression problematic?
Similar to anxiety, it is normal to feel some amount of sadness. However, when it starts becoming an obstacle that someone cannot get over, it needs to be dealt with. It can be an urgent sign to seek help if one’s work or relationships are being affected by symptoms caused by depression.
- Symptoms of depression include:
- Excessive sadness or crying.
- Lack of motivation or fatigue.
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
- Pessimism and hopelessness.
- Suicidal ideations.
- Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable.
- Irritability or restlessness.
- Insomnia or oversleeping.
- Loss or increase of appetite.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness.
Depression can be a considerable problem in conjunction with parenting, particularly because children need interaction. A parent who is depressed might snap at their kids a lot more than they typically would. They might have trouble getting out of bed or being motivated to do the most basic tasks, such as making meals.
Most often, depression is treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). People’s thoughts affect their feelings, which affect their actions, so it is important to look at the thought processes of someone who is suffering from depression.
First, I perform a type of behavioral activation in which I have clients identify what brings them down as well as what brings them up. I proceed to give them homework assignments that incorporate exploration of their thought process, learned coping skills, or participation in something positive.
Examples of assignments include:
- Logging breathing exercises.
- Finding a self-care activity and committing to it for a week.
When clients struggle with motivation or holding interest in their therapy, I address it during sessions. For example, I will ask them how they are feeling on a scale of 1–10. Typically they will respond with a number on the higher end of the scale. I will tell them to hold that thought and take them outside to walk around the parking lot or to the end of the block and back. Once we are back in the office, I will ask them, again, how they feel on a scale of 1–10.
Often, there is a significant drop. Sometimes, the drop is minimal; however, the point is to show them improvement and that the potential to feel better exists. I believe that first-hand experience teaches people faster than giving them explanations or having them read something.