What is the difference between “the blues” and depression?
We all feel blue sometimes, but these feelings are transient, lasting a few hours, or a couple of days. When we get the blues, good news, a pleasant talk with a friend, or even a good night’s sleep can lift our spirits. If depressed mood lasts two weeks or longer, resists improvement, and is profound enough or constant enough to interfere with daily life, you may have depression. Depression saps energy, and sucks the joy out of life. A depressed person may feel sad, empty, hopeless, worthless or irritable, and have trouble concentrating, or sleeping.
What causes depression?
There is no single known cause. Genetic, biochemical, psychological and environmental factors may all cause or contribute to depression. Stress, illness, or a significant life transition may trigger a depression.
Is depression the same for children and adults?
No. Depression in children and adolescents often manifests as irritability or anger.
What are effective treatments for depression?
Depression can be successfully treated, but I believe treatment should be tailored to individual needs. Because depression is a complex condition with many possible causes, treatment needs to be individualized, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary. Treatment may include any combination of the following: lifestyle changes (including diet, exercise, healthy sleep habits, a support group, meditation), psychotherapy, and medication.
I work with clients to develop a personal treatment plan, introduce strategies for making lifestyle changes as needed, refer for medical assessment when appropriate, and draw on my experience with cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, mindfulness informed interventions, and family therapy in order to address my client’s needs. I may also suggest group therapy. Not everyone will need or benefit from all of these. It is important to wisely explore different treatment options to discern what works best for you.
What can I do to start feeling better now?
These strategies are not meant to substitute for medical and therapeutic care. Rather, these are actions you can take that may help you feel better now. If your depression is so profound you can’t do these, don’t put off getting help.
- Make a list of friends to talk to and pleasant activities. Schedule one a day.
- Do something physical (take a walk, do yoga, workout, go dancing).
- Spend time with beauty (sit in a beautiful place, listen to beautiful music).
- Spend 5-10 minutes every day breathing deeply, slowly, and rhythmically.
- Do one thing on your mental “Oh no, I have to do that!” list. Don’t think about doing it, just do it and reward yourself afterwards. (Don’t know how to reward yourself? Try doing something you loved when you were a kid).
- Explore your spiritual resources (talk to a spiritual friend or advisor, try meditation or prayer, read an inspiring book, draw a mandala).
Photo used under Creative Commons from James Jordan