A lot of people have felt depressed at some point. Often it passes quickly and people carry on with their lives. Sometimes, however, depression can last for a long time and it can be difficult to find relief. When that happens, we may be dealing with a depression diagnosis or a mood disorder.
Types of Depression
When it comes to diagnosis, there are largely two categories:
- distinct periods of depressed mood, lasting two weeks or longer, that can dip very low, or
- more of an ever-present, not too severe, but always humming in the background kind of a depression that is hard to shake.
Causes of Depression
Depression can have various causes. There are almost always situational factors contributing to depression, which may or may not be evident – this is usually something in the person’s environment, where they are feeling stuck. For chronic and severe symptoms, there is also often a genetic/ biological basis affecting depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
When we talk about clinical depression, it actually has a whole list of symptoms, which you may or may not be aware of. The main symptoms include feeling sad/ experiencing a low mood, low energy, negative thoughts about the self and the world, changes in sleep and/or appetite, social isolation, loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy, and thoughts of death or self-harm. It often surprises people that irritability, crankiness, and loss of patience can also be part of depression. Overall, depression physically feels heavy, like you are somewhat shutting down. Most people with depression will say that they have a hard time getting going, though once they are up and about they may feel ok or even significantly better.
We can also think in terms of severity: depression ranges from mild, moderate to severe. When it comes to treatment, if we are dealing with severe depression, medication is usually recommended. In such instances, the person usually struggles with getting up from bed or the couch and has a hard time with daily functioning. When it comes to mild or moderate depression, CBT is the recommended treatment and medication may not make much of a difference. Also, a standard recommendation is that if you are on anti-depressive medication, you should see a therapist to address it from a psychological aspect as well.
CBT for Depression
CBT for depression explores what may have caused you to become depressed – often it is something that we call situational. Depression can also run in families to a degree, and for some people, mood disorders seem to be genetically linked. If that is the case, we help to manage the symptoms and prevent the episodes.
CBT teaches ways to treat depression through education and understanding, helps through support and problem solving, and overall builds up the strength to get going again. We take a holistic look at the person’s current situation, background, and any factors that may be affecting your mood. Based on your unique factors, we create an individualized plan to help you get to a better place using CBT steps – these often involve activities between sessions that help you develop tools/skills, which are used to address the current struggles but are also helpful to manage future challenges.