Depression affects millions of people. If you are struggling with depression, you are not alone. It is estimated that over 17 million people in the US have had at least one major depressive episode https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml. Depression is treatable with self care, medication, counseling or a combination of these. Here’s a look at what depression is and two things to start doing that can help your healing.
What is depression?
Depression, also called major depressive disorder, is characterized by sadness, low mood and lack of interest in things. But depression is not just being sad. Depression is longer lasting and has a more profound effect on daily life. Commonly, people struggling with depression express feelings of hopelessness. Depression can affect your ability to work, maintain relationships and engage in self-care. Some common characteristics of depression include:
- feelings of worthlessness
- crying spells
- sleeping too much or not enough
- changes in eating habits (eating too much or not enough)
- suicidal thoughts
What causes depression?
Depression is thought to be caused by a combination of things. There may be biological factors – how systems in the physical body work – that make someone more prone to depression. Social factors – our relationships, our family backgrounds and our place in the world around us – can trigger depression or make recovery from depression more difficult. Our unique personalities – the psychological strengths and challenges we bring, such as how we typically think and how we respond to situations and challenges. (Read more about depression, symptoms and treatment here https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression).
How is depression treated?
Depression can make you feel like it’s impossible to feel better. It can make you feel like you are powerless to ever be any different than you feel now. Depression treatment can include medication, therapy and self care. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 80% of people who seek treatment eventually feel better. Although the recovery process may take months, it is worth it.
Counseling for depression will often begin with an inventory of your symptoms and a history of your experience with depression. Although every person is different, depression therapy will usually highlight ways of thinking, general attitudes or even deep rooted beliefs that are widespread and common among depressed people.
Depression seems to force us to think of things in an all-or-nothing way. We can see no hope or good in things that once made us feel happy. We see ourselves as worthless, useless, powerless. While depressive thinking isn’t our ‘fault’, and you are not to blame if you notice your mind going that direction, there is often great benefit in challenging depressive thinking.
Depression Self Care: Look for two things everyday
When depression grabs hold it can be difficult to see things in the way we do when we’re not depressed. You can start working towards a better mood now by doing this simple task.
Look for two things everyday:
To be most effective with this exercise, write down one achievement and something you feel grateful for. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being low) rate each one. Rating it on a scale allows us to practice being less ‘all-or-nothing’ in our thinking. Instead of thinking, ‘I didn’t do enough, it doesn’t count’, the rating system allows us to appreciate that some things deserve credit, even if they aren’t up to the same standard as when we are feeling well.
Challenging yourself to find an achievement provides a basis to question the feelings of worthlessness and uselessness that fuel depression. Looking for something to be grateful for doesn’t mean that we are ungrateful when suffering from depression. But it does provide a tool to practice healthier styles of thinking by actively looking for something we possibly didn’t notice when depression is narrowing our attention.
Ready to try?
Here are 3 tips to help you get started
Be patient and kind to yourself
It’s a small task, it’s simple, but internally it’s almost like you are asking yourself to step outside of depression for a moment. And that can be so tough. Be ok to not do it well. Don’t punish yourself for not doing it everyday. it might feel like you don’t push yourself enough, and that if you were better you wouldn’t be having this problem. But the truth is, criticizing yourself won’t help.
Broaden your definitions
What is your definition of an achievement? On some days, depression means that just getting up to brush your teeth can be a big achievement. On other days, you might do a lot, but not feel achievement. Are there other things you’ve not noticed before? Use the activity as a tool to break the cycle of depressive thinking.
Actively experiment and build on success
When possible, add in activities, plans that could help encourage feelings of gratitude or achievement. They don’t have to be big. Take time for yourself in some way. A moment to appreciate something in the world, even if it’s not perfect.
Need more help for depression or self-care?
Depression is difficult, and even if this exercise isn’t for you, help is available. Our skilled therapists will work with you to develop a treatment plan specifically for your needs. If you think you have depression, seek help. If you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves or others, phone 911 immediately. Here at the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, our therapists are ready to help. Contact us to arrange a session with a licensed counselor or supervised intern.
Other Therapy Services We Offer
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch we offer depression treatment for adults, teens, and kids. We also offer counseling services in other areas including anxiety treatment, trauma counseling, family therapy, counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues and group counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!