Therapy for Depression
Depression at a Glance
Do you have a quiet, growing sense that you’re not yourself these days? Perhaps you drop into sadness easily, more deeply, and for longer periods of time than you recall doing before. On the other hand, you may feel numb and struggle to remember a time when you felt anything other than flat, aimless, and stuck. This is often what depression feels like.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s hard to concentrate on projects and tasks, which only makes you feel worse. Your appetite may have increased and be contributing to weight gain. On the other hand, your appetite may be strangely non-existent. You may feel more tired than usual and notice changes in your sleep patterns. This is often what depression looks like.
You may want to isolate yourself from others, despite recognizing that you feel lonely and disconnected. Perhaps you’re struggling to find meaning in anything. You may be experiencing thoughts of harming or killing yourself - these thoughts can range from a passive sense of “not wanting to be here anymore” to having plans and intentions of ending your life. This is the isolating and vacant nature of depression.
You may be telling yourself all kinds of stories about how you’re feeling. You may be thinking: “Maybe this feeling isn’t real. If it is real, maybe it will go away if I put one foot in front of the other, work really hard, or put on a happy face. I feel guilty for feeling this way. I shouldn’t feel this way. I should be able to snap out of this. I might burst into tears if I’m around others so I’ll just keep to myself. I might feel nothing if I’m around others and trying to pretend feels bizarre and exhausting. I’ll just stay home.” This is often what depression sounds like.
Depression isn’t one thing, it’s many. Because of its varied nature, depression is felt and expressed differently from person to person. However, there are two characteristics that describe most people’s experience of depression fairly well. First, it’s insidious. It develops so gradually that it’s rare for a person to see it coming. Second, it’s convincing. Once a person feels depressed, they’re often certain that their altered ways of thinking and feeling are reality-based. In other words, depression is like a visitor that moves into your home one t-shirt and trinket at a time, and by the time you realize it’s taken up residence, you think it should have been living there all along. It’s hard to catch, and it’s hard to fight. But people can and people do.
If you’re depressed or think you might be, we’re glad you’re here. If this is your first time experiencing depression, it may be unnerving to discover that your usual ways of coping aren’t working. Don’t panic. If this experience isn’t new to you, it can be difficult to acknowledge that your symptoms are returning. Depression can be a humbling and haunting experience. That being said, we invite you to keep reading. The rest of this page covers reasons to be hopeful, what feeling better often looks like, and some of the most common questions clients ask about the treatment of depression.
Recovering from Depression
Talking with a psychologist who has training and experience helping people recover from depression can play an important role in helping you feel like yourself again. By the way, it is possible to feel like yourself again. Depression has a way of making a person forget themselves. Therapy has a way of helping a person remember.
Imagine feeling lighter. Imagine experiencing a range of human emotions again - joy, happiness, gratitude, and contentment. Imagine experiencing sadness occasionally but no longer feeling weighed down by feelings of hopelessness. Imagine feeling rested, focused, decisive, and motivated. Imagine having the clarity and bandwidth to evaluate variables in your life that may have contributed to or exacerbated depression. Imagine having the stamina to explore what, if any, additional changes you might want to make in your life.
Reasons to be Hopeful
You're Not Alone
You are not alone. This is important to highlight because depression thrives when you feel isolated. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, with approximately 17 million Americans experiencing at least one major depressive episode in any given year.
You're In Good Company
Depression itself (and the cultural messages around it) can make a person feel weak, selfish, guilty, and ashamed for being depressed. Depression is not a moral failing; it’s a complex medical illness that’s often impacted by significant relationships, life changes and circumstances, and cultural messages. Some of the most hard-working, intelligent, creative, helpful, and generous human beings have acknowledged personal experiences with depression.
Depression is highly treatable with competent care. Unfortunately, doubts about the benefits of treatment can result in a person not reaching out for help. This can sometimes increase the severity of a person’s depression, making it more detrimental to their relationships, work performance, and overall health. There’s a lot of research available on this topic, but the primary takeaway is that people who receive competent care benefit from treatment and they maintain those gains over time.
Drs. Casey and Christopher have years of experience helping clients with mood disorders, major depressive disorder being one of the most common. They also enjoy working with clients who are seeking therapy for depression because it’s incredibly rewarding to help client’s find themselves again and resume making decisions from a place of greater emotional well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I consider antidepressants in addition to therapy?
Major Depressive Disorder is a real illness with a genetic and biological basis. Therefore, antidepressants may be a helpful part of treatment. Some of the variables we consider at Spring Psychological Services prior to making a psychiatric referral include: severity of symptoms, family history of mental health concerns, personal history of depression and other mental health concerns, the client’s values and preferences, the client’s likelihood of taking medication as prescribed for a therapeutic length of time (usually 6-12 months with lots of variability here as well).
I don’t think I’m clinically depressed. Should I still consider therapy for frequent sadness and loss of interest in life?
Absolutely. Therapy is not limited to individuals who meet strict criteria for a mental health disorder. In fact, if you’re willing and able to attend therapy without a formal diagnosis, you’re more likely to prevent the development of a major depressive episode and offset the significant toll clinical depression can take on your relationships, work, and overall health. Insurance does not cover preventative therapy; a formal diagnosis is needed for reimbursement. However, this type of therapy is helpful in a myriad of ways (including reducing healthcare costs down the road…). Therapy that is preventative in nature can also usually be completed within a shorter period of time.