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EDUCATION

Understanding the Problem

Recognizing Depression and Finding 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.

Recognizing Depression

Recognizing depression and understanding how it can be addressed is a starting place for hope. 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. However, 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.

There is no shame in recognizing that we may be affected by depression. In fact, identifying a challenge can be a very hopeful place. Knowing what we’re dealing with allows us to address and overcome it. Individuals can be affected by depression in different ways, and the paths to growth and healing may be unique. 

Identifying Signs of Depression

Clinicians have identified a number of signs that may indicate depression. These include 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. Additionally, struggles at work or difficulties in relationships with friends or family caused by our emotional state may indicate 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 that starting to seek help or understand the condition is worthwhile. 

Past and current situations may be involved in triggering feelings of depression. Are you facing an ongoing stressful situation, or feeling tension about a deeper question about life or purpose? Have you experienced trauma recently or in the past that has not been addressed? 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 discovering these linkages can be part of the healing 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, including various forms of therapy, help with addressing both the symptoms and the roots of the condition. Medication can be an important part of stabilizing and addressing depression in the short term. Therapy, and other non-medicinal tools, can help address root issues and bring deeper healing for the long-term. 

Some common types of therapy for depression include: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Before starting, learn more about why therapy can be so valuable, and how to choose what therapy could be best for you. Check out this guide put together by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Finding Hope and 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 through a trusted resource. The tools discovered and healing possible in addressing depression can become the building blocks of a flourishing life.

 

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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