People with depression typically describe life as if they are living under a fog that won’t lift and that prevents them from being able to see what’s going on around them. They say happiness can feel like a distant memory and hope is typically nonexistent. Many people report experiencing a complete absence of all emotion.
Whether something recently triggered you or you’ve been feeling this way for a long time, it’s important to know that this is temporary and you are not alone. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, nearly sixteen million American adults suffer from depression, making it one of the greatest and most common mental health issues. There are literally millions of people quietly feeling disconnected, unfulfilled, and wondering when they will get some relief.
In our culture, we tend to overvalue positivity and undervalue vulnerability. This leaves millions of vulnerable Americans reluctant to seek help to get back on track. This is one reason why depression is so destructive and such a widespread issue.
Depression is sneaky. The mind will convince you that no one else is going through this, that it’s a lifelong sentence and there’s not much hope. In this way, the mind creates a loop of negative thoughts. The negative thoughts trigger feelings of depression, which then change your behavior. This often results in withdrawal from people who can support you and activities that bring joy to your life.
Many people who struggle with depression experience feelings of guilt. They wonder whether they did anything to cause it. However, depression is rarely a straightforward response to a troubling situation. A number of factors can contribute to depression, including genetics, medical conditions, environmental factors, childhood upbringing, difficult relationships, or trauma.
Here’s a list of the most common symptoms of depression:
- Persistent sadness and feelings of emptiness
- Hopelessness and pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, including oversleeping
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
The good news about depression is that there are proven strategies to treat it.
Depression treatment is more than just talking about your problems, it’s actually working toward practical solutions. By using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a modality proven to be effective in depression treatment, we will work on addressing your current situation and equipping you with tools so that you can deal with events that occur in the future. CBT is based on the premise that a person’s mood is closely tied to his or her thoughts. So by addressing thinking patterns that are often inaccurate and dysfunctional, clients experience improvement in their moods and subsequently their behavior.
Depression Treatment includes 3 distinct phases:
Step 1: Rapport
The first and most important step of therapy is establishing a supportive, comfortable relationship. The connection between the counselor and client is the most powerful instrument in therapy and it’s also the biggest predictor of growth. It’s okay if you are unsure or nervous about asking for help. Being vulnerable can be scary, but it’s the first step towards a better life. Vulnerability is the antidote to the isolation that depression produces.
Step 2: Goal Setting and Trajectory
During the goal setting phase, we will identify specific goals you want to meet and explore different ways of attaining them. If you’re not ready to start working on the big stuff right away, that’s ok. We can break goals up according to what is manageable for you. I firmly believe my clients are the experts at what it’s like to be them. Therefore, we will design a therapeutic plan that’s unique to your situation. We’ll also set a time frame for treatment and discuss what to expect as it progresses.
Step 3: Cognitive Reframing
Once we set goals, we will then begin exploring your problem and working toward solutions. We’ll focus on small steps to gain traction at a pace that works best for you. We’ll examine your perception of yourself and situations in your life in order to see how those thoughts impact your mood.
As the process unfolds, we will look at how your moods affect your behavior. I will teach you techniques to test the validity of your own thoughts and how to correct them when they’re skewed. Too often, people stuck in depressed states have fallen victim to unrealistic thinking patterns. Many people are simply unaware of those skewed thoughts. We will spend as much time as you need in order to evaluate and dismantle those hurtful thoughts.
Many people begin to notice a significant improvement in their mood through the process of cognitive reframing. When your mood improves, you’re able to participate more fully in your life.
Depression has a way of making you think you’ll never be happy again. But a better life is waiting for you. There’s no need to continue to suffer alone. With a little help, it’s possible to regain the life you had – even if it’s been so long that you can’t remember it. And when the fog lifts, you’ll rediscover your purpose and notice all the beauty you couldn’t see before.