Depression Treatment, Therapy, & Counseling
Many people feel sad, lonely, irritable, and have low moods but this passes within a couple days. With clinical depression, these symptoms last longer and interfere with daily life. You may find that you cannot focus and concentrate like you once did before, or that you do not get as much pleasure or joy out of activities you once enjoyed. Some people who have clinical depression are unaware of what treatments are available while others never seek treatment. However, a large majority of individuals who do seek treatment for clinical depression see an improvement in their lives and a reduction of symptoms. In addition, depression does not discriminate as children, adolescents, and adults can experience clinical depression.
There are several forms of clinical depression; they include: Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Also, at times certain substances, medications, and medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of depression; however, they often fall under the category of a different diagnosis.
It is important to note that there is a commonality between depressive disorders, which is the experience of feelings of sadness, emptiness, or irritable mood, with physical (e.g., fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”) and mental changes that greatly interfere with daily life.
Below is a list of symptoms for each type of depressive disorder. You may find you do not experience all of the symptoms for each disorder, but even subclinical depression typically improves with treatment.
Major Depressive Disorder
Some individuals experience significant feelings of depression that are related to natural ebbs and flows of life whereas other individuals may experience depressive symptoms for no apparent reason.
Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day (e.g., feel sad, empty or hopeless)
- Loss or dramatic decline in all or almost all activities you once found interesting or pleasurable
- Significant weight loss or gain (not due to dieting)
- Significant trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Feeling restless or feeling “slowed down”
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Feeling worthless or very guilty
- Decline in ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
- Recurring thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempt/plan
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Someone who has been experiencing clinically depressive symptoms for at least two years, may be experiencing Persistent Depressive Disorder. This diagnosis was previously known as “Dysthymia.”
Persistent Depressive Disorder Symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, for more days than not. (For children and adolescents this may be expressed as irritability, rather than depressed mood.)
- Poor appetite or eating too much
- Fatigue or low energy
- Low self-esteem
- Problems concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)
Some children and adolescents appear frequently irritable and display severe emotional outbursts. Children and adolescent who are irritable and have outburst often have difficulty regulating their emotional experiences. This is a common occurrence in individuals with Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD).
- Severe temper outbursts (verbal and/or behavioral outbursts)
- Temper outbursts are not appropriate for the developmental level of the individual
- Temper outbursts occur a few times per week
- Mood is irritable or angry for most of the day and nearly every day
- Temper outbursts are occurring in more than one setting (e.g., home and at school)
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Some women feel a drastic change in mood just prior to the start of their menstrual cycle. During this time they often experience severe mood swings, irritability, anger, or depressed mood.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Symptoms:
- Mood swings (feeling suddenly sad or tearful)
- Pronounced feelings of irritability, anger, or increase in conflicts with others
- Pronounced depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or belittling thoughts of oneself
- Pronounced anxiety, tension, and/or feeling on edge
- Decreased interest in usual activities
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling lethargic and easily fatigued, or pronounced low energy
- Pronounced change in appetite, overeating, or specific cravings
- Trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Feeling overwhelmed or feeling out of control
A diagnosis of a depressive disorder should be made by a licensed mental health professional; however, if you feel that the above information resonates with you, it may be worth speaking with a professional who will ask you questions regarding your symptoms, when they began, and how severe they are. You may also be asked about your family history and childhood in order to understand what may have led to your depressive symptoms.
It may be valuable for individuals to undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation in order to determine the severity and nature of one’s depressive symptoms. Psychological assessment help to tease apart why you are experiencing depressive symptoms and provide helpful recommendations for treatment.
Depression Treatment & Counseling for Depression
Individual therapy for depressive disorders generally involves creating a safe and supportive space where individuals can process painful emotions that may emerge during depression. From this safe space, an individual will work together with the therapist to promote change. The symptoms of depressive disorders are varied and encompass many domains of functioning. In addition to low mood, depression can impact the individual’s diet, sleep, attention, and concentration. During therapy, the client and therapist work together to better understand and then alter these aspects to promote a more fulfilling and active lifestyle.
The work done in individual therapy can also be supplemented by a variety of different medications. Our psychiatrist works collaboratively with the individual and the therapist to plan the appropriate course of treatment. To obtain further information about psychiatry and medication please visit our Psychiatry and Medication page