Depression & Mood Disorders
Counseling for Depression in Delray Beach, FL
- Do you feel “blah” all the time and just can’t seem to find satisfaction in things you used to enjoy?
- Do you have a hard time getting out of bed, as if you just don’t have the energy or motivation to face the day?
- Are you more emotional or sensitive than usual, crying or feeling upset at the smallest thing?
- Do you have a bleak or futile outlook on the future, sometimes even contemplating suicide?
- Are you finding yourself withdrawing from friends and other social activities that you used to like?
The use of the word “depressed” has become commonplace in everyday language to describe normal and temporary feelings of sadness or perhaps a dip in a person’s mood. However, clinical depression refers to something that is much more serious and debilitating in nature and which often requires mental health intervention to treat. In 2020, an estimated 21 million adults (or 8.4% of adult US population) in the US experienced at least one major depressive episode.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Here are some common symptoms of depression:
- Crying spells or feelings of sadness
- Depressed or low mood
- Feelings of helplessness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities (otherwise known as Anhedonia)
- Changes in sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
- Changes in appetite
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Agitation or restlessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Physical aches and pains
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Depression can also manifest outwardly in a person’s behavior. Some common behaviors that can often be observed in a person who is depressed include:
- Neglecting one’s personal hygiene or appearance
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Increased substance and/or alcohol use
- Problems with academics or work
Consequences of Leaving Depression Untreated
Not treating depression effectively creates significant problems and costs to individuals and society as a whole. Individuals can develop problems with alcohol or other substances, numbing painful feelings in an effort to cope. It can create problems in relationships, at work, and in school. A person’s mental and physical health can experience major problems from depression, often taking a toll on both a person’s mind and body. In fact, there is mounting evidence that depression can lead to physical diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
Trauma and Depression
Traumatic experiences have major impacts on a person’s brain and nervous system with the potential to cause significant changes to a person’s overall body chemistry and brain function. Though not all depression originates from trauma (e.g., genetic factors), psychological adversity is known to be a major source of clinical depression. In fact, one study found that over half of the participants with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also had Major Depressive Disorder. Another study found a clear link between childhood trauma and chronic depression later in life.
Unfortunately, medication alone is often not completely effective for treating depression caused by trauma or PTSD. A more comprehensive approach is often needed that includes psychotherapy to address the underlying trauma at the core.
Other Mood Disorders
Formerly called manic depression, this disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Bipolar episodes may occur sporadically throughout a person’s life or sometimes multiple times per year. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it can usually be treated effectively with medication and psychotherapy.
This is a rare mood disorder characterized by mood swings (emotional ups and downs) though not as severe as with bipolar disorder.
Persistent Depressive Disorder.
Previously known as Dysthymia, this disorder is characterized by a chronic low mood that is not as severe as major depression, but is longer-lasting and often being present for years at a time.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
This disorder is characterized by severe irritability, depression, or anxiety around the time a woman has her period. Symptoms often start a week or two before the period starts and subside in the week after the period ends.
Treatment for Depression and Mood Disorders
Medication is a highly effective treatment for depression and mood disorders. You can work with a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor trained in prescribing psychotropic medication. Other healthcare providers such as primary care doctors or psychiatric nurse practitioners are also trained in prescribing medication for mental health disorders as well. Here are some common classes of medications utilized in the treatment of depression and mood disorders:
Antidepressants. Antidepressants are a very common and effective treatment for depression, working by helping to balance a person’s neurotransmitter levels in the brain. These chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Some classes of antidepressants include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin And Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs).
Mood Stabilizers. Mood Stabilizers are another common form of medication used to treat bipolar disorder and depression. Some of these include Lithium or anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), or valproate (Depakote).
Antipsychotics. Antipsychotics are another common class of medication used to treat mood disorders. Some examples of these include olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), and aripiprazole (Abilify).
Psychotherapy (otherwise known as counseling or just “therapy”) is also an evidenced-based treatment for depression and mood disorders. Therapy provides a safe space to explore the roots of depression and come up with strategies to overcome it to experience enjoyment in life once again. This often involves addressing current stressors, learning skills to manage strong emotions, restructuring negative thoughts and beliefs, and often processing unresolved traumas. A good therapist will collaborate with medical professionals and help clients to come up with strategies and coping skills between sessions to combat depressive symptoms.