Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. More than just the temporary “blues,” the lows of depression make it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did.
Hobbies and friends don’t interest you like they used to; you’re exhausted all the time; and just getting through the day can be overwhelming.
When you’re depressed, things may feel hopeless, but with help and support you can get better. But first, you need to understand depression. Learning about depression – including its signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment – is the first step to overcoming the problem with the help of depression counseling.
How to Treat Depression
We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word depression to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.
Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all. Instead, they feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic.
Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
Treatment for Depression
The mainstay of treatment is talk therapy with a trained psychologist or therapist. Medications (for example citalopram and paroxetine) that act on the chemical imbalance in the brain are also useful treatments for major depression. However, many people are unhappy with the side effects of medication and they don’t work for everyone.
Treatment plans for depression vary depending on the type of depression a person has and how severe it is. Some people get psychotherapy. Others also take antidepressants or get other treatments.
However, the American Psychiatric Association recommends having psychotherapy in conjunction with medication as opposed to taking medication alone. Alternative therapies such as nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle modifications should also be done in conjunction with psychotherapy.
Are You Depressed?
Unless you have been diagnosed with some type of depression, you may not be sure if what you are experiencing is depression or whether you need depression therapy. If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
- you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
- you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
- you feel hopeless and helpless
- you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
- you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
- you are much more irritable and short-tempered than usual
- you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)
Depression often looks different in men and women, and in young people and older adults. An awareness of these differences helps ensure that the problem is recognized and treated.