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Understanding Depression

 Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor August 07, 2014
By Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor
 
Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology


It could be the Mom crying in her closet, trying to find the energy to take on the day; or the man returning from work who feels powerless and ineffectual at home and the office; or the teen who closes up in their room and has one-word responses to every question; even the grandparent who just doesn’t feel like themselves anymore and can’t seem to find joy in the little one’s smiles. Depression will statistically hit everyone at one time or another in their lives.

Depression is not just feeing sad one or two days. It is a persistent feeling of low energy, powerlessness, defeat, negative thinking, and lack of enjoyment. We see depression in the isolation, poor sleep habits (too much or too little), poor eating habits (again too much or too little), fatigue, and lack of wanting to participate in activities.

Also, there are many different types of depression. Major depressive disorder requires two months of symptomology and may or may not include thoughts of self-harm. This is the depression we see in movies and as a typical depression with crying, staying in bed, and not functioning well at everyday life. It is often noticeable and can occur for no good reason or after a major life change.

Dysthymia requires a low-grade symptomology bout for two years, often referred to as “the walking cruds.” These people often feel bad, but can go to work, function, and just feel off and as if the world lacks color, stimulation, or joy. Food tastes bland, parties are boring, and nothing seems to please them or take the numbness away.

Postpartum depression, or baby blues, occurs in a mother after a baby is born and looks more like major depressive disorder. It usually also includes a lack of feeling bonded to the baby. This type of depression often is a result of the physical and mental strain of having a baby and all the life changes that come along.

The treatment for depression often includes medications to “fill the tank” of serotonin and dopamine in our brains. One explanation is that our brain is like a bakery and if we do not use up the supply, then over time, our brain does not provide as much of that chemical. So, if we are depressed due to a causal event or due to a chemical reason to decrease dopamine and serotonin, the result is still too little happy chemicals to really feel happy. Medications can help build up that supply and even to re-teach our body to make us more. The key then is using the happy chemicals to urge on production and to maintain levels; this is where counseling comes in.

Mental health counseling is about changing the behaviors, thoughts, emotional patterns, situations, and relationship styles that continue to provoke an unhealthy response. There are many therapeutic modalities to choose from that all have this same result. We want to change the negative self talk, the poor behaviors, and the weak boundaries to create a more positive-focused and enjoyable life. Learning to enjoy the small things, having gratitude, and being in the “here and now” are all ways to gain the upper hand on depression. It sounds hard because it can be. Change is always done when we are uncomfortable, and though change itself is uncomfortable, the result can then be a place of comfort and happiness.

An untreated depression, with no medication and no therapy, has a likelihood of 33 percent to return. The second untreated depression has a 66 percent chance to return. A third untreated depression has a likelihood of 99 percent to return. Research showed that those just in close proximity of a depressed person started to feel depressed themselves after only 15 minutes, despite if they talked to each other or not. It is important to treat your depression, in whatever modality you choose, to avoid this problem in the future and protect those around you.

Dr. Chelsie is in private practice in the Ocotillo area of
Chandler, Arizona. To find out more, visit www.drchelsie.com, call 480-855-4009, or like her on Facebook.


Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Fuse/Thinkstock Back to Top

 Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor| August 07, 2014

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