What may start out as feeling sad, lonely or “down” can become overwhelming and chronic over time. There are some common symptoms that go beyond the garden variety “feeling blue”, and it is important to pay attention to these so you know when to seek help:
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness and pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, anger, restlessness
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Do any of these sound familiar? If depression is left untreated it may worsen and it can be debilitating and life threatening. We recognize how hard it is to seek help when you are feeling low and need it the most. We want you to know that in taking this step you will be on the road to recovery, as depression is highly treatable.
Depression is a complex illness with many contributing factors. Some people who have experienced dysfunctional family backgrounds may be more vulnerable to depression. Other contributors that may put you at risk are: history of abuse, certain medications, personal conflicts and disputes, major positive or negative events, social isolation, death or a loss of someone close to you, serious illness, substance abuse, and anything that affects your thinking, behavior and mood in a significant and persistent way.
Depression is not a character flaw, and it can’t be overcome by sheer willpower. There are many treatment options available, and in evaluating what is best for you it is important to identify the type and severity of your depression, and tailor your treatment to your individual needs.
Therapy has been found to be most effective and have the longest lasting results in treating depression, either by itself or in conjunction with other treatment modalities.
When you are depressed you are held hostage by constant negative thoughts. These self-defeating thoughts may have a grain of truth, but they have become exaggerated and distorted to a point where you believe they are the entire truth. In therapy you will learn to recognize and correct these deeply held, but false negative, automatic thoughts and beliefs that contribute to depression.
Making small changes in your thinking and behavior every day will lead to lasting improvements in both mood and how you view your life going forward. Therapy will also help you get to the roots of your depression, as there may be deeper, long held relational and family of origin issues that need to be resolved.
We also evaluate current lifestyle, and work with you to improve healthy habits such as better sleep, a balanced diet, increase of exercise, limiting alcohol and/or drug habits in conjunction with learning relaxation and visualization techniques.
Sometimes clients consider medication to help them cope with their depression. We can help you examine the best treatment options for you, and as appropriate, work with your doctor and psychiatrist, or refer you to someone for medical evaluation and treatment in conjunction with your therapy and lifestyle changes.
If any of your family members are depressed you may feel a sense of helplessness, especially if your loved one is refusing to seek help. You may feel like you are walking on eggshells and live in a state of fear. The person experiencing depression may not fully understand how their mood is impacting your relationship and family, and how scared and frustrated you are.
If you are experiencing depression, but feel unsupported or afraid to talk with your partner and family we understand how lonely and scared you may feel. We encourage you to reach out for help, as having the additional burden of trying to hide your symptoms will worsen your condition and relationships.
In addition to individual therapy for the person directly affected with depression we encourage therapy for those affected to explore what this means for your family. Together we can work through this difficult time, and guide you and your family through these complex issues so you can get the most out of your life. You do not have to face this alone.
Questions for Thought
Below are a few questions that are intended to help you consider your personal situation more closely. If you are ready to improve and live your life to the fullest, we encourage you to contact us to discuss how we can best help.
- Does it take great effort for a member of your family to do simple things?
- Does some in your family feel fatigued often?
- Does a member of your family feel like a failure?
- Does someone in your family feel lifeless — more dead than alive?
- Have you noticed changes in sleeping patterns?
- Has a member of the family contemplated suicide?
- Does someone feel depressed even when good things happen?
- Does the future seem hopeless?
- Has a member of the family lost interest in an aspect of your life that they used to find important?