How Depression Therapy can help Berkshire Locals
Sadness, feeling helpless, and experiencing a loss of interest in daily activities are familiar feelings for all of us. But if feelings of sadness persist and affect your ability to function, you may have a diagnosable mental health condition.
Depression—also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression—is a serious mental illness. In some cases, it can cause severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to think, feel, and function in daily life. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, people who experience depression and other mood disorders can lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Prevalence of Depressive Disorders
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately one in 10 U.S. adults in the general population experience some type of mood disorder, with the most common mood disorders being major depression and bipolar disorder.
Mental health conditions can affect anyone at any stage of life—from adolescence through adulthood. While mental illness has no single cause, some risk factors for depressive disorders include a family history of depression, genetics, low self-esteem, social factors, psychological factors, and exposure to violence, neglect, and stressful life events.
Types of Depression
There are several different types of depression and mood disorders, each with its own unique diagnostic criteria. However, some common forms of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder (major depression/clinical depression)
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Psychotic depression
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Bipolar depression
Many individuals with mood disorders also experience co-occurring mental disorders, such as substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and psychosis. It’s important to remember that mental health symptoms don’t have to be a normal part of life, and seeking treatment can help you start feeling better.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression symptoms vary in severity, with some experiencing mild depression symptoms and others experiencing more severe symptoms. The symptoms of depression also vary depending on the specific type of depression.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, common symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood (low mood)
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and interests
- Avoidance of social activities or social situations
- Changes in appetite, i.e., weight gain or weight loss
- Sleeping problems, i.e., insomnia or restlessness
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty functioning in daily life or carrying out daily activities
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Self-harm or suicide attempts
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death
While bereavement, the loss of a job, or the end of a relationship may be difficult experiences, it’s essential to keep in mind that experiencing sadness is not the same as being depressed. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), depression symptoms must last at least two weeks to diagnose depression.
Additionally, because medical conditions and physical illnesses (e.g., thyroid problems, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease) can mimic the symptoms of depression, it’s important to rule out any physical conditions before a mental health diagnosis can be considered.
Treatment Options for Depressive Disorders
Although depression symptoms can feel overwhelming, depressive disorders are one of the most treatable mental disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association, between 80 percent and 90 percent of depressed people respond well to treatment.
Depression treatment generally involves a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressants. Your treatment plan might involve:
- Psychotherapy. As a first-line treatment for mental health conditions, psychotherapy and mental health counseling can help depressed people manage their mental health. Working with a mental health specialist can help you understand your mental health, navigate challenging life events, and learn healthy ways to cope with the symptoms of depression.
- Antidepressants. Depending on the severity of depression, your psychiatrist may recommend a prescription for antidepressants to help you cope with physical symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved antidepressant medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), in the treatment of depression.
- Brain stimulation therapies. Research has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can help activate parts of the brain, effectively treat depression symptoms, and reduce the recurrence of remission. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) doesn’t cause seizures or require sedation with anesthesia. Light therapy can also help relieve depression symptoms.
- Check-ups with your primary care provider. Physical disorders and medical illnesses such as hypothyroidism, chronic pain, and other health problems can contribute to the symptoms of depression. It’s important to schedule a regular physical examination to rule out any underlying health problems and explore your medical treatment options.
- Healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating regular exercise into your daily life, and getting enough sleep can help ease feelings of sadness and help you cope with moderate depression, according to the U.S. CDC. Also, be sure to talk to your clinician before attempting to treat your depressive disorder with any herbal medicines such as St. John’s Wort.
Therapy for Depressive Disorders
The type of talk therapy that works best for you will depend on your specific symptoms and preferences. Some types of treatment commonly used in the treatment of depression include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals cope with significant life changes and mental health symptoms using a combination of cognitive and behavior therapy. CBT is an effective treatment for many mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, substance abuse, and psychosis.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT helps individuals with mental health conditions accept and validate their feelings to develop a gradual treatment plan toward recovery.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): Interpersonal therapy helps depressed people improve their interpersonal communication and relationship skills.
- Psychodynamic therapy: Psychodynamic therapy helps individuals identify the roots of their mental health problems by exploring past experiences.
If you’re experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or navigating stressful life events, reaching out for professional help is the first step to feeling better. At the Berkshire Therapy Group, our experienced mental health specialists can help you manage your mental health to live a healthy, productive life.