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What can professional help offer depression sufferers?

When it comes to the type of help professionals can offer, there is good news and bad news. Let me get the bad news out of the way first. Think of how long it took you to get to where you are today. Think of how depression almost grew on you. It didn’t happen overnight, and therefore, don’t be discouraged if you are not healed overnight. The good news is depression can be something in the past. Once it is over, you will have an inspiring story to share with others (if you so wish).

We have come a VERY long way into knowing how to manage depression. I will briefly outline the three main types of treatments:

  • Medical treatments for depression: 

Do antidepressants actually work? There is a lot of debate about this. You might be interested in watching the following video to learn more about what happens in the brain when one is depressed:

Science of Depression

Medical treatments for depression work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. I always wonder about one thing, though. How can medication change one’s thoughts and the dull lifestyle that comes with depression? It probably doesn’t!

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: 

Probably, the most popular treatment for various psychological disorders today. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing ones’ thoughts as well as behavioral. The following video sums up CBT adequately:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy:

Mindfulness is based on the practices of Buddhist monks. Much of what you would experience in a mindfulness-based therapy would include focusing on the here and now. Meditation is a big part of what mindfulness is. It is believed that mindfulness therapy is useful because it makes you focus on the present moment rather than your mind wandering off to negative past experiences.

Personally, I believe integrating medical and therapeutic treatments is probably the best option. So many individuals have been able to PICK THEMSELVES UP from depression. It takes a bit of effort and time, but it is not impossible.

Depression First Aid

In the last blog post, I covered symptoms of depression according to DSM V. I also included Beck’s Depression Inventory (check A little bit about Depression).

So assuming that after reading the previous post, you realised that you may be suffering from depression or someone dear is. What can you do before seeking professional help? The following video is a brief overview of things that can be done:

Living with black dog

Before studying psychology, I was so eager to tell people who are depressed to just be happy and move on. I soon came to realise that it is never that easy. In fact, saying that does not make them feel better and may worsen their symptoms. So, the first tip is DO NOT try to talk them into feeling better.

The second advice is DO NOT JUDGE. Feeling depressed may come with all kinds of irrational thoughts about other people and oneself. Thirdly, in good days, DO NOT BELITTLE their feelings and what they are going through. Suffering from depression does not mean that one is locked up in their room and crying 24/7. Similarly, DO NOT BE OVERLY COMPASSIONATE. Your near one may be suffering from depression, but may not know about it. Even if they do feel that they have lost themselves, they may not want to admit. Being overly compassionate may make matters worse.

Finally, ENCOURAGE them to seek professional help. However, DO NOT NAG or over-involve yourself.

A little bit about Depression

I have had clients being referred to me with chronic back pain and irritable bowel syndrome. It took a few sessions to dig deep and realize that these physical symptoms may be related to depression. Let’s get one thing straight, though. I’m not saying that having back pain or IBS is a symptom of depression. However, depression may be related to these symptoms. So what are symptoms of depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder V, criteria for Major Depressive Disorder is as follows:

  • Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
  • Mood represents a change from the person’s baseline.
  • Impaired function: social, occupational, educational.
  • Specific symptoms, at least 5 of the 9 symptoms below, are present nearly daily:
    • Depressed mood or irritable most of the day (feels sad or empty)
    • Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities
    • Significant weight change or change in appetite
    • Change in sleep
    • Change in daily activity
    • Fatigue or loss of energy
    • Guilt/worthlessness
    • Diminished concentration
    • Suicidality

If you think you are experiencing the above, you should seek help. Depression impacts memory, immune system negatively and may even lead to suicide.

An excellent place to start is by taking Beck’s Depression Inventory:

Beck’s Depression Inventory

About living with depression will follow in the next blog post. Stay safe, and remember to do your best to PICK YOURSELF UP.

The mother of all evils

If only we all went on some sort of a prevention program for stress at elementary school, that would have saved us some unnecessary heartache (literally).

Stress! Truly, the mother of all evils! Surely, for the most part, we can’t avoid the stressful event. However, recognizing symptoms of stress early will eliminate its chronic negative consequences. Symptoms of stress will be covered in the next blog post. My aim with this blog post is for you to fully understand the horrific consequences of stress.

During my training, I met a wonderful 40-year-old woman. She was brought by her father and step-mother to the psychiatric department at the hospital where I was undergoing my training. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 20. It was important for me to learn more about her first psychotic episode. Upon meeting her father and step-mother, I learned that what preceded the very first psychotic episode was a rape incident! Now, rape does not only cause stress, but it may also lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which is quite a complicated mental disorder on its own). Another inpatient, who was diagnosed with bipolar depression, experienced his very first episode after his mother passed away in a road-trip car accident that he convinced her to go on. ”Stressful events” do not need to be that severe. In fact, a third inpatient that I met, had her first psychotic episode when her mom was bedridden, her crush of several years turned her down, being the breadwinner of the family (her dad passed away when she was a child) and starting university. You may be thinking that not everyone who has experienced being raped went on to develop a psychotic disorder. That’s very true. Having said that, stress may lead to depression, anger, anxiety, alcohol, and drug addiction. This is just to mention a few.

Stress effects on the body

People are walking around carrying the effects of stress on their bodies and they don’t even know it. Below is an article that has been put together by the American Psychological Association about stress effects on the body:

Stress effects on the body

As mentioned earlier, it is inevitable to face stressful situations. However, it is important to recognise the signs of stress, catch them early, do something about them and PICK YOURSELF UP.

Is there a stressful situation that you have experienced that you would like to share with me? Feel free to do so by commenting below, dropping me a message on my Facebook page or by sending me an e-mail on youstina.demetry@hotmail.com.

Till the next blog post! Much love

Stress: Symptoms

The scariest thing about stress is that it is so easy to get used to its symptoms and overlooking it as a cause. Then one may end up spending too much money, time, and energy on treating symptoms of stress, leaving the primary source untouched.

Now, the symptoms I’m going to outline below may apply to several other conditions (this is not to say that stress is a mental condition). Only YOU can identify if what you are going through is due to increased levels of stress. Having said that, let me outline common symptoms of stress:

  1. Stress lowers immunity: with that being said, you may be experiencing more frequent or prolonged colds or flu.
  2. Lower ability to think straight: To explain why this is the case, I will have to take you back to the origins of stress. Humans stress to save themselves when faced with dangerous situations. When feeling stressed, it is a sign that your body is going into a flight-or-fight mode. Thus, when you are feeling stressed out, your body is too focused on choosing between fighting or flying that you can’t think straight.
  3. Sleep problems
  4. Lower sex desire

If you notice changes in any of the above, it may be helpful to take a minute to think over what is causing you stress and if there is anything you can do to change it.

In the next blog post, I will talk to you through practical tips to reduce stress. Till then, remember to take whatever chance that comes your way to PICK YOURSELF UP.