Experiencing Depression

There is no way to describe depression that fits everyone. Just as each person is unique, so are our ways of experiencing our feelings. 

Depression is a common and painful experience that effects how you feel, how you think and how you behave. It causes feelings of sadness, disinterest and an inability to engage in the world. It can lead to physical problems. It makes it difficult to function at times. 

It is treatable. 

Everyone is capable of being depressed. There are basically two different types. One is biochemical, which means it was passed on by gene. One inherits the tendency to be depressed. The other is situational. This is the one that applies to everyone. When people lose their jobs, relationships, or when a beloved pet dies, most will feel depressed. Depending on the cause of the depression, it can last a long time. It is a normal response to many situations. 

For biochemical depression, anti-depressants may be helpful, but not all people need them. They serve as a foundation to address changing the feeling, but they do not, by themselves, make depression go away. For situational depression, they are rarely effective.

Symptoms of depression vary. The intensity of symptoms also varies. One may feel sad. Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyed is common. Appetite can change to loss of interest to increased interest in eating. There can be difficulty with focusing on thoughts. People feel more tired. There is a loss of energy. One can feel worthless. There can be problems sleeping or sleeping too much. Not all of these occur and the depth or timing of the experience varies.

Depression is treatable. A professional will determine which type of depression applies by taking a history of the individual and finding out about birth family. At times, medication can be recommended. There is no one right medication for everyone, so adjustments can be made to find an effective anti-depressant. I often suggest that people pursue therapy for a month to see if they can gain some control over the depression before using medication. 

Understanding the depression is a beginning. Being able to talk about the experience is helpful. Seeking new behaviors to address the depression is important. And exploring new thinking patterns is significant. Exercise is a great intervention. Eating healthy and good sleeping patterns help. 

There is not a predictable pattern because everyone is different. It is important to work with a therapist who respects who you are and understands your experience of depression. It is a major accomplishment to have clients with depression discover that they can learn skills to help themselves. It is very painful to feel helpless. We all like control, and this is an area where it can be very effective in changing a mood. 

 

Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda based Therapist. Submit questions to drnataliegelman@gmail.com or through her website, drnataliegelman.com.