What is Depression?
Depression is our body’s distress signal to us that we are wounded and need to heal. When animals are physically wounded, there is a natural instinct to hide, lie still, and conserve all energy toward the healing process. Similarly, when we are wounded psychologically, our bodies force us to slow down in order to heal. When our body is trying to signal to us that we need healing and rejuvenation, we may experience various symptoms of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Some of the signs or symptoms of depression that can signal the need to slow down, regroup and heal include:
- Chronic and pervasive feeling of emptiness, sadness, numbness, hopelessness or helplessness
- Difficulties getting out of bed
- The things that you used to enjoy no longer feels enjoyable
- Decreased motivation
- Feelings of shame or guilt
- Constant exhaustion and fatigue
- Feeling irritable and easily angered
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Thoughts that you are better off dead; thoughts of harming yourself
- Feeling restless
- Difficulty concentrating, being productive, or completing tasks
Your Experience is Unique
Depending on your cultural background, upbringing, and identities, you may experience depression differently. Some people experience depression mostly as physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, chronic pain, fatigue, or changes in appetite. Others may experience depression as a sense of restlessness, agitation, or irritability. Depression can also occur together with other mental health concerns such as anxiety, trauma, or disordered eating. Given the many forms of depression, it is sometimes hard to identify. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced depression in the past year. You are not alone. Many have walked down this path before and have come out on the other side with a renewed sense of themselves and a regained purpose in life.
The symptoms of depression can be debilitating and significantly impair your daily functions. You may find it more difficult to go to school, function at work, stay engaged with your friends and family, and take care of yourself. These distress signals have an important message to tell us and they are not easily suppressed unless we listen to our bodies and change the context of our lives. This is why, I believe, it is important to address not only the depression symptoms, but also explore the roots of the problem in psychotherapy for long-term relief and lasting change.
What Does Depression Treatment Look Like?
When you enter into treatment with me, I will first take a broad and comprehensive approach to understanding you and your life. As I get to know you, my assessment includes understanding your current stressors and symptoms, your relationship dynamics, your past experiences, your family history, your sociopolitical context, your cultural background and identities, your coping strategies, the patterns that you have noticed in your life, your strengths and resilience, etc. As therapy progresses, we will take the issues that are the most alive for you and go deeper. As a psychologist, I believe that our emotions give us clues to the bigger picture and it is the also the vehicle for change. Therefore, we will explore your emotions and decipher what the distress signals are trying to say. We will work on fine-tuning your current coping strategies or introduce new ones to better manage stress and overwhelming emotions. Depression is unique for each person so the treatment varies between individuals. This also means that the length of time you are in counseling varies from person to person, depending on the complexities of your history, your identities, your relationships, and your life.
How Will I Know I am Making Progress in Depression Treatment or When I Am Better?
Progress in therapy is not a linear path across time but a circular journey to health and healing. Think of psychotherapy as being in the shape of a screw. At some points in the therapy process, you may feel like we are going around and around on the same issues but each time we pass by them we are going deeper. Through the practice of effective coping strategies, we will immediately address the most painful aspects of your life. We want to first decrease the depression symptoms that are impacting your everyday living. From there, we will go deeper to explore the roots of your depression, anxiety or other deep emotions. When you have noticed significant improvements in your mood, relationships, and functioning, we will then focus our energy on preventing another episode of depression and to explore ways for you to live a life that is full of hope, joy, and empowerment. To find healing from your depression as quickly as possible, you can take responsibility for your part of the therapy process: show up on time, communicate cancellations timely, think about our sessions beforehand, complete assignments, be ready and motivated to make changes in your life, value directness in feedback, take risks, try new things, and apply the new coping strategies to your life.
Begin Depression Treatment in My Ballard Office
You do not have to live with feeling stuck or wounded. Depression symptoms do not have to be a barrier to a life worth living. If what you've read here resonates and you live in the Seattle area, I encourage you to reach out and contact me today. We can schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation and begin exploring how psychotherapy can help you on your journey toward healing.
Other Counseling Services
You are a unique individual, and you might not have only one issue you are struggling with that fits neatly under depression treatment. That is why, I offer a variety of counseling services at my Ballard counseling office. I take a holistic approach to your mental health using techniques from various evidence-based counseling approaches to help you create lasting change and thrive with challenges. Some of the other services I offer include psychotherapy for anxiety, trauma, and disordered eating, as well as marriage and couples counseling.