What is Depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.  Depression can cause feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.  It can also lead to several emotional and physical problems that can decrease your ability to do your job or maintain your home.


Common Symptoms of Depression:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or feeling fatigued
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite, either weight gain or loss not related to dieting
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity, such as the inability to sit still, pacing or handwringing
  • Decrease in movements or speech that are severe enough to be observable by others
  • Thoughts of death or suicide


Different Types of Depression:

Major Depressive Disorder - Identified when an individual has five or more of the previously mentioned symptoms that last for at least two weeks.  This also represents a change from previous behaviors and functioning.  Typically described as feeling sad, empty and hopeless.  In children and adolescents this can appear as irritability.

Persistent Depressive Disorder - Described as having a depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least two years.  In children and adolescents, this can appear as irritability and must be present for at least one year.

Seasonal Depression - Commonly referred to as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is when the changing seasons and reduction in sunlight contribute to a lower mood in individuals.  Known as the "Winter Blahs" individuals may find it takes more energy to stay motivated.

Peripartum Depression - Previously referred to Postpartum Depression, is identified when an individual experiences symptoms of depression after giving birth.  Fluctuating hormones are a significant factor contributing to decreased mood.

Bipolar Disorders - In addition to the features for a depressive disorder, bipolar is characterized by periods of intense mania.  Many times referred to as manic-depression, individuals will find distinct periods of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood with associated increased energy.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder - Typically an individual will have severe symptoms of depression, irritability, and tension about a week before menstruation begins.  Common symptoms include mood swings, irritability or anger, depressed mood, feeling suddenly sad or tearful, or increased sensitivity to rejection.  Other symptoms may include difficulty concentrating, lack of energy or fatigue, food cravings or changes in appetite, trouble sleeping and feeling overwhelmed or out of control.  Because hormones are the leading contributor individuals may also experience breast tenderness and a sensation of "bloating" or weight gain.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder - A condition that occurs in adolescents that involves chronic and severe irritability resulting in severe and frequent temper outbursts.  These outbursts can be verbal or can involve behavior such as physical aggression toward people or property.


How can Counseling/Therapy help?

Because depression encompasses feelings, thoughts and behaviors, best treatments involve therapeutic elements that address all these characteristics.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and Mindfulness Training are all utilized in treating depression.  Just as each person experiences depression differently, the gifted therapist can combine treatment modalities to successfully address individual differences.


Think you may be struggling with depression?

Click Here to Take this FREE Depression Assessment.