Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. In the United States, close to 10% of adults struggle with depression. Because it is a mental illness, it can be a bit harder to understand than a physical disease or disability like diabetes.
One source of confusion is the difference between having depression and feeling just depressed. Almost everyone feels down from time to time and it can be caused by normal things like losing a game, losing a job, having an argument, or experiencing bad weather. Sometimes those circumstances change and those bad feelings disappear.
Clinical depression is different. It's a medical disorder and it won’t go away just because you want it to. It lingers for at least two consecutive weeks and interferes with one’s ability to work, play, or love. Depression can have a lot of different symptoms such as a low mood, lack of interest, changes in appetite, sleeping too much, feeling worthless or guilty, poor concentration, restlessness, loss of energy, or recurrent thoughts of suicide.
If you have at least five or more symptoms, according to psychiatric guidelines, you qualify for a diagnosis of depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it takes the average person suffering with a mental illness over ten years before they ask for help.
When anxiety comes into play, depression can become even more confusing. These conditions can be comorbid, meaning someone with depression can also have anxiety symptoms and vice versa.
According to Medical News Today, anxiety disorders occur when a personal regularly feels disproportionate levels of distress, worry, or fear over an emotional trigger. Deep in mind depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistently low moods that can be paired with moments of fleeting anxiety. Some symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap. One way to distinguish the two is by the fact that anxiety is accompanied by worries of the future and depression is partnered with regrets of the past.
However, both mental illnesses can be treated simultaneously and there are quite a few resources that can ease your concerns. If you have received a diagnosis and you have yet to seek help do not hesitate to do so. Depression is a medical condition and doesn’t mean you are defective in any way.
Depression can be treated by a trained mental health worker like your Milwaukee psychotherapist or diagnosed through a psychological consultation. It is important to utilize the right resources and support, because depression is a condition that combines biology, life experiences, thoughts, and actions to create a pattern that’s difficult to break out of on your own.
Therapy has been proven to literally change brain chemistry and change its structure. It’s effective for up to 5% of people who seek help. Your psychotherapist, along with some other resources that we will cover, can play the most important role in your recovery by offering support and/or education. A therapist will also be able to help you find additional resources, explore causes, and solve problems.
Remember, it is not abnormal to try multiple psychotherapists before finding one that you feel comfortable with. This therapist should also help you stretch, learn and grow, but don’t quit if the first couple of Therapists or sessions don’t work out.
New research is showing that therapy can actually change the blood markers that indicate depression and therapy can change the physical structures in your brain that indicate depression as well.
Primary Care Doctor
The first thing that you should do is see a primary care doctor rather than a therapist, because depression symptoms can also be caused by many different underlying medical conditions which should be ruled out before spending tons of money or effort on therapy or medications.
With your doctor, you should be tested for vitamin deficiencies especially in the areas of vitamins d, vitamin b, magnesium, zinc, and iron. You should also get checked for other common deficiencies that impact sleep, energy, and mood.
Also consider getting checked because many physical disorders actually look and feel like depression. These disorders can include thyroid disorder, diabetes, sleep disorders, MS, Lyme disease, food allergies like gluten intolerance, and endocrine disorders that result in hormone changes.
Long story short, you want to make sure your body is healthy and not the cause of these symptoms.
While there are many things that you can do to naturally ease your depression, in some circumstances, medication may be your only resource. This is absolutely fine as well, sometimes medication is an absolute cure and doesn’t need to be continuously utilized after treatment.
Medication can also be a great way to kick start, supplement, or maintain the treatment of depression but again it is not a long-term solution.
Genetic tests are also available to help you narrow down which medicinal resources may be right for you. This is an absolute breakthrough because finding the right med and dosage usually takes months to years of experimentation. Make sure to take the time to discuss your options with your doctor and psychotherapist.
Most people new to the world of therapy are not familiar with resources and treatments outside of the widely popularized talk therapy or traditional psychodynamic therapy.
With photo or light therapy, those who are being treated will use a lightbox or morning daylight exposure to trigger the brain to have more energy.
Dietary treatment can also impact depression because 0% of your serotonin — one of the various chemicals associated with happiness — is found in your gut. So, focusing on gut health can rid you not only of vitamin deficiencies but serotonin differences as well.
Additional alternative therapies like transcranial magnetic stimulation and group therapy can also play a role. In some severe cases of depression, inpatient care may also be needed. It is important, like with other resources and options, to talk to your doctor about which options are right for you.
Family and Friends
When you are depressed or suffering from depression, feelings of guilt and shame are plentiful. For this reason, people tend to hide their depression for fear of being judged. However, friends and family, as well as the support systems they create, will become your biggest resource.
Research shows that open conversations surrounding thoughts of suicide, depression, and anxiety are lessened when they are discussed. This is why talk therapy is found to be so effective.
Your family and friends may also be able to learn about your symptoms and treatments, if you allow, through group and family therapy. You can also learn ways to cope with depression as one cohesive unit.
Having a support system is absolutely imperative to mental health. So, take the time to reach out and connect with people face-to-face.
Psychological approaches can be really effective at treating the underlying patterns that are causing depression. In the field of cognitive behavior, resources and treatment are almost limitless. Skills can also be learned through videos and books.
If you would like to learn more about the resources above, try a few, or discover others be sure to connect with us and we will set you on the path to a life beyond depression and anxiety.