October 2, 2018 | Pennsylvania Counseling Services, Inc.
Everyone experiences seasons of sadness, but when the sadness turns into long-term feelings of hopelessness and despair, those are signs of an emotional disorder commonly known as clinical depression. About 15 percent of the U.S. population experiences clinical depression during their lifetime.
Failure to cope with significant emotional, social or physical stress, such as the loss of a loved on, an unemployment or a personal injury, can lead to the onset of clinical depression.
Most people become depressed as a result of covering up hurtful feelings from the past without processing them. Others may become depressed after feeling helpless or overwhelmingly stressed. For example, a woman who loses her job after many months of struggling to keep it may develop symptoms of clinical depression.
Depression shows many symptoms, including the following:
sadness or negativity
loss of interest in typically enjoyable activities
lack of energy
sleeping more or less than usual
changes in appetite or weight
decreased concentration or memory
exaggerated feelings of guilt and worthlessness
suicidal feelings or attempts
In severe cases, depression can lead to dangerous suicidal thoughts or actions.
Signs that someone may be struggling with suicidal thoughts include:
giving away valuable possessions
frequent themes of death in the person’s work or conversations
If you’re concerned that someone you know may be showing signs of suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you encourage the person to talk about it with a therapist or a loved one.
Sometimes a person will feel relieved to simply share their feelings of despair with someone else. If it’s easier for them to talk with someone they’re close with, be ready listen in a non-judgmental way and affirm that their depressive feelings are real and difficult. A person struggling with depression needs to believe that their sadness is legitimate before they believe they can benefit from help or treatment.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is the most common method of treatment for depression. During psychotherapy, a client and therapist talk about the client’s depressive feelings and relevant life experiences, stressors and patterns to detect the causes of the depression. Once they identify the cause, the therapist will guide the client in conversation about treatment and coping mechanisms. (individual therapy)
*Significant others or family members may be included in the treatment to rebuild healthy interactions. (couples / family therapy)
*A medical doctor may be consulted to prescribe an antidepressant medication to accompany psychotherapy. (psychiatric & psychological services)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy
If a medical professional determines that TMS therapy may be right for the client, treatment sessions can be scheduled to begin immediately. TMS therapy uses an electromagnetic pulse to activate regions of the brain that are made dormant by depression. Treatment lessens the symptoms of depression.
If someone you know is depressed:
listen in a non-judgmental way
acknowledge the legitimacy of the feelings of depression
affirm strengths and healthy behaviors
be alert for suicidal tendencies
encourage the person to get professional help
If you are depressed:
explore what the depression is signaling
use the depression as a time to determine what you need and begin to express your needs
more importantly, use the depression as a time to be good to yourself
don’t be afraid to get help–if the depression lingers, seek out professional help