Most everyone feels sad from time to time. But if emptiness, despair, or loss of pleasure in most things have taken hold of your life and won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it difficult to function and enjoy life like you once did, and just getting through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment of depression is the first step to overcoming the problem.
Symptoms of depression include: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, negative thoughts, loss of interest in activities, change in appetite or weight change, sleep issues, anger issues, loss of energy, concentration problems, and/or physical aches and pains.
DIFFERENT FACES OF DEPRESSION
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DEPRESSION IN WOMEN
Rates of depression in women are twice as high as they are in men. This is due in part to hormonal factors, particularly when it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression, and perimenopausal depression. Women are more likely than men to experience pronounced feelings of guilt, to sleep excessively, to overeat, and to gain weight. Learn more..
DEPRESSION IN TEENS
While some depressed teens appear sad, others do not. In fact, irritability—rather than depression—is frequently the predominant symptom in depressed adolescents. A depressed teenager may be hostile, grumpy, or easily lose his or her temper. Unexplained aches and pains are also common symptoms of depression in young people. Left untreated, teen depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse, self-loathing, and even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or suicide. But with help, teenage depression is highly treatable.
DEPRESSION IN OLDER ADULTS
The difficult changes that many older adults face—such as bereavement, loss of independence, and health problems—can lead to depression, especially in those without a strong support system. However, depression is not a normal part of aging. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression, and so the problem often goes unrecognized. Diagnosis and treatment are extremely important, given that depression in older adults is associated with poor health, a high mortality rate, and an increased risk of suicide. Learn more.
Many new mothers suffer from some fleeting form of the ‘baby blues.’ Postpartum depression, in contrast, is a longer-lasting and more serious depression, triggered in part by hormonal changes. Postpartum depression usually develops soon after delivery, but any depression that occurs within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression. Learn more.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics.
TYPES OF DEPRESSION
Major depression is characterized by the inability to enjoy life and experience pleasure. Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but more commonly, major depression is a recurring disorder.
Dysthymia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood. The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time (at least two years). These chronic symptoms make it very difficult to live life to the fullest. Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as “double depression.” If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like you’ve always been depressed, or you may think that your continuous low mood is “just the way you are.” However, dysthymia can be treated, even if your symptoms have gone unrecognized or untreated for years.
TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for depression. What works for one person might not work for another. Dr. Zackson specializes in therapy for depression will customize your treatment for you. Therapies for depression include psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and mindfulness.
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COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)
CBT helps people with depression restructure negative thought patterns. Doing so helps people interpret their environment and interactions with others in a more positive and realistic way. It also helps people recognize things that may be contributing to the depression and help change behaviors that may be making the depression worse. Dr. Zackson will help you understand your thought patterns and behavioral habits that are associated with depression. Sessions will focus on how your thoughts, activities, and interactions with others affect your mood. The goal will be to help you identify and change dysfunctional patterns to increase your quality of life.
INTERPERSONAL THERAPY (IPT)
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) helps identify issues and problems in interpersonal relationships and ways to address and improve them. IPT helps people understand and work through troubled relationships that may cause their depression or make it worse.
In contrast to CBT, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the depressed person and his or her thoughts. The primary focus is on recognition and awareness of negative thoughts and patterns of destructive thinking. The focus is on the bodily sensations that arise when you are depressed: instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, you remain present and fully experience your thoughts and feelings. This process enables you to release your over-identification with negative thoughts. In MBT you learns different ways of thinking patterns in a way that reduces negative thinking and depression. In therapy, Dr. Zackson will help you identify and change your thinking patterns and explore new ways of thinking that improve the quality of your life. You will continue to practice responding to disruptive thoughts and letting these thoughts go and incorporating new ways of thinking and maintain therapeutic gains. MBT often involves relaxation techniques, which, when practiced regularly, can reduce depression and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the root of problems, in addition to the symptoms. It can help an individual achieve greater insight and self-awareness about his or her feelings, motivations, and relationship patterns, which leads to the relief of symptoms. In addition, psychodynamic therapy aims to help the patient develop internal psychological resources and greater capacity for dealing with issues that have caused emotional suffering. Psychodynamic therapy helps patients explore the full range of their emotions, including feelings of which they may not be aware. To learn more about psychodynamic therapy, go to the therapy page.