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EDUCATION

Understanding the Problem

Feeling Depressed? There’s Hope

Depression is complex condition of the brain that affects millions of people. Recognizing its signs can be the beginning of seeking medicinal and non-medicinal forms of support that unlock greater stability, support, and healing.

The Hope of Understanding Depression

Understanding depression is a starting place for hope. Learning about depression helps us understand the condition, breaks shame and stigma by revealing how are our brains are affected, and moves us toward getting help. We can also grow in recognizing how individuals are affected differently, and how we can experience support, growth and healing.

Depression is a complex, multi-faceted condition that stems from our brain chemistry. We often hear that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, but it’s actually more complex than simply having too much of one chemical and not enough of another.  Genetics, stressful life circumstances, other medications or medical problems, faulty brain function, and other issues can also play a role in causing or triggering the condition. Billions of different chemical reactions taking place in our brains affect our mood and experience of life. This is partially why individuals’ experiences of the condition can look, sound, and feel quite different.

Identifying Signs of Depression

Have you ever wondered how to recognize depression, or what separates the condition from simply having a rough day or week? Clinicians point to a number of signs that may indicate depression, including the following: feeling like we don’t have worth or value, experiencing pain, difficulty sleeping, trouble in social relationships, and disruption of “regular” aspects of our lives. If our current emotional state keeps us from being able to perform up to our normal abilities at work, or makes it hard to connect with family or friends with whom we have relationship, it may be an indicator of the condition. An official clinical diagnosis requires two weeks of low mood and symptoms such as those above. However, any significant experience of these feelings, emotions, or disruptions may indicate the value of seeking help and starting to talk about our experience with a trusted friend or trained professional. 

Recognizing challenges that may be triggering feelings of depression can also be helpful. Are you facing an ongoing stressful situation, or feeling tension about a deeper question about life or purpose? Have you experienced trauma recently, or have experiences of trauma in your past that have not been addressed or resolved? Are there shifts in your lifestyle or activities that might be affecting your hormones or mood? We may not always be able to point to a specific cause or reason for our feelings, but being aware of these linkages can help inform our process.

Therapy and Treatment

Thankfully, there are a range of different types of therapy and treatment that can help individuals stabilize, manage, and recover in the midst of depression. Most treatment tools fit within two categories: medicinal and non-medicinal. Both types of tools are important. First, medications, including antidepressants, can help individuals affected by addiction to stabilize by normalizing and improving the chemical condition of the brain. Second, non-medicinal tools include various forms of therapy which help address both the symptoms and the roots of the condition. While medication is often an important part of addressing depression, particularly in the short term, engaging with therapy, or otherwise addressing the roots of depression, is crucial for sustaining recovery in the long-term.

Some of the most common types of therapy for depression include the following: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), interpersonal therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Learn more about each type of therapy, and how to choose what therapy could be best for you, through this guide put together by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Finding Motivation to Step Forward

If depression is something that affects you, you are not alone. There is no shame in recognizing the challenge that you’re facing. You don’t have to figure it out on your own or keep stuffing down the emotions inside. Today is a perfect time to start or continue your journey to greater health and hope. Talk to a friend, ask your doctor for a recommendation, or look for a counselor or therapist via one of the databases that OneStep has identified.

 

This piece was co-authored by Dr. Renee St. Jacques, a licensed psychologist, and the OneStep editorial team. Learn more about Dr. Renee here or follow her on Instagram

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