Living with depression is painful.
You can feel better and we are here to help you take action.
Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other demanding situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. However, if these feelings persist for over a two-week period with little to no relief and begin to negatively impact work, family, and daily functioning, it is probably time to seek help. Depression is most likely due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Brain imaging technologies have shown that the parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior of people who have depression function differently than those of people without it. Some types of depression tend to run in families, although the condition can occur in people without family history. Also, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation can trigger a depressive episode.
To help you determine if you may be struggling with depression, we have provided a short questionnaire to check your symptoms. Click on the button below to take the Depression Symptom Checker:
Depression in children and adolescents
It may be difficult to tell if a child, adolescent, or teen is suffering from depression. Risk factors include being under stress; experiencing loss; or having attention, learning, or behavior problems. In addition, girls are more likely than boys to develop depression, and younger children who develop depression are likely to have a family history. It is not uncommon for children, even very young children, to be diagnosed with depression. During adolescence, with its many personal and social changes, depression can take hold. Persistent unhappiness or moodiness is not normal. Look for these symptoms:
- Depressed or irritable mood, frequent mood swings, angry outbursts
- Loss of interest in usual activities; withdrawal from friends
- Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Problems falling sleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Frequent sadness or crying
- Feeling worthless, guilty, low self-esteem
- Problems concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions
- Frequent aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Self harming by cutting or other means to hurt the body and cause pain
If your child or teen is showing many of these symptoms, it may be time to have them evaluated for depression. Early treatment can help with the prevention of future depressive episodes by teaching healthy coping skills and effective ways to address stress. At your child’s first intake appointment, your therapist will assess for depression along with other mental health conditions to see what treatment is best. Working together, you and your child will come up with a treatment plan that addresses the problems they are facing and practical steps to help them feel better. Depending on the age of your child, a therapist will work with caregivers to understand what might be impacting depression and teach effective ways to support a young person who is struggling. Addressing childhood depression is a team effort, and we are here to help!
Five tips for coping if you are struggling with depression:
Get help: Seeking help is a sign of true strength, not weakness. Depression is a serious mental illness, however, it’s also highly treatable. If you are struggling with depression, it’s important that you reach out for help from a professional. You don’t have to suffer alone, and you can feel better!
Get moving: Research has shown that physical exercise is a kind of natural anti-depressant as the body releases “feel good” chemicals when we exercise. The Catch-22 of depression is that feeling better requires action, and taking action when you’re depressed is difficult. However, while you may not have much energy, you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, and that can be a great start to boosting your mood and improving your outlook.
Get connected: We are wired for social connection. When experiencing depression, it is easy to begin withdrawing and isolating from others as it can take what feels like a Herculean effort to be with people and engage in conversation. The problem is that this creates a downward spiral toward feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. It also keeps us away from family and friends; the very people who want to help the most. Your depression may cause you to not “feel like” socializing or going outside. However, it’s important to take these actions to boost your mood-even if you don’t “feel like it” initially.
Get sleep: Depression often involves sleep problems. The body repairs and prepares for the challenges of the coming day during sleep, so getting 8 to 9 hours each night is critical in order to function well. Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood will suffer. A therapist can work with you to identify what might be contributing to sleep problems and creating a plan to address those issues. Some people benefit from the use of medication short-term to assist the body in resetting a consistent sleep cycle. Adopting healthy sleep habits can dramatically improve the way you feel.
Get self-compassion: Beating yourself up for experiencing depression will only serve to make you feel even worse. It’s not your fault that you are suffering from depression. Mental illness is not a choice. No one would choose to isolate themselves from people they care about, to feel hopeless and numb, and to struggle with getting out of bed or leaving the house. It’s so important to be kind to yourself and to recognize that you are not alone in struggling with depression. Think about some self-care activities that you can do for yourself and work to speak to yourself compassionately, as you would a good friend who was suffering.
Content adapted from The Anxiety and Depression Association of America informational brochure found at https://adaa.org/sites/default/files/Depression-ADAA_Brochure-2016.pdf and Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C, http://www.jenniferrollin.com/blog.