Depression is a common mood disorder that can cause unrelenting feelings of emptiness or sadness for extended periods of time. Generally referred to as Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, this mental health affliction directly impacts the way an individual thinks, feels, and behaves and often leads to disruptions in a person’s day to day functioning.
There is a common misconception of the idea of what depression may look like when someone is feeling its effects. However, depression can come in many forms and sometimes can be considered an invisible illness because the individual may be leading what looks like a “normal life”.
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health diagnoses within the United States. It is estimated that 21 million Americans will be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder each year. Of that number, 3.7 million adolescents aged 12-17 will experience a depressive episode.
While certain considerations make an individual more prone to developing depression, it is a mental health diagnosis that can be experienced by anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or race. Despite your demographics or health conditions, depression is never a normal experience and should be treated with the support of mental health professionals.
Symptoms of depression will vary from individual to individual, but some of the most common experiences include:
For many individuals experiencing depression, it is not uncommon for symptoms to be severe enough where it may cause obvious complications with daily functioning. Individuals may find it difficult to perform at work or school, maintain healthy relationships and engage in social events or activities. Sometimes even the simplest tasks, like maintaining daily hygiene, getting out of bed and even dressing can feel impossible. Often, these struggles can leave the person feeling alone and powerless. Even positive experiences can feel negative when suffering from depression.
However, depression may not manifest as increased sadness. Sometimes, emotions displayed by individuals suffering from depression will include shame, irritation, and uncontrollable anger. Individuals may find themselves experiencing unexplained body aches, increased lethargy and even nausea. In other times, the individual experiencing depression may find themselves feeling emotionally numb or empty.
There are many myths surrounding depression. As important as it is to know what depression is, it is equally important to understand what depression is not. Society has been conditioned to view depression as extreme sadness that won’t go away. However, there are many individuals who have depressive episodes and experience quite the opposite, where they are left feeling as if their emotions don’t even exist.
Depression is not a matter of simple sadness, and it is not an experience someone has when life simply isn’t going the way they wanted it to. Many individuals face struggles every day that disrupts their life goals, but that does not mean they will automatically start experiencing depression. Can they find themselves sad and feeling the blues for a while? Absolutely. However, to count as depression, the symptoms must meet certain criteria over a specific time frame.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. There has been much stigmatization around the diagnosis of depression and therapy in general. However, anyone at any point in their life can face a depressive episode. Depression is based on biological, psychological, and environmental conditions that have nothing to do with a person’s strength. In fact, when someone is facing depression, they often must put in double the force to endure the day.
Depression does not have to rule your life. When an individual has depression, they often find themselves hopeless about the future. It can be easy to feel as if there is no way out of their mental hell, but with the right treatment, the vast majority will find significant improvement in their symptoms. The most common forms of treatment for depression involve psychotherapy, medication management or a combination of both. A clinician at Puglisi Counseling can help you decide which type best fits your needs.
Many factors come into play when discussing the causes of depression, including biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Sometimes all three factors can influence the mental health diagnosis.
Most mental health experts agree that depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain, but that does not mean it is the only factor at play. While the brain does create certain chemicals that increase our happiness, including serotonin and dopamine, too little or too much does not determine the guarantee of experiencing depression. The amount of these chemicals can certainly play a significant role in the cause of depression, it is the interaction they have with other circumstances that bring on the illness, including life event stressors and genetic vulnerability.
Many situational events can lead to the onset of depression including divorce, financial problems, traumatic events, or the death of a loved one. However, depression is not to be confused with the normal process of grief following the loss of a loved one. The mourning process is a normal experience that will usually become easier to manage over time.
But no person is an island. Just as brain chemistry can affect life, life can cause changes in the brain. Any stressful or traumatic event can contribute to depression. Common triggers include divorce, financial instability, chronic illness, social isolation, bullying, and domestic violence.
Depression is not to be confused with the typical mourning process. Given how close the similarities between depression and grief are, it can be difficult to differentiate the two. Grief after loss is normal, and it usually fades over time. Symptoms of grief are usually triggered by the reminders or thoughts of the reasoning of the experience. On the other hand, depression is more prevalent throughout all thoughts and situations, rather than being tied to one specific reason.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out for support as soon as you can. At Puglisi Counseling we have a team of clinicians who will work to help you overcome depression and live your fullest life. We work from various interventions that can help alleviate depression including but not limited to:
Your clinician will work with you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a holistic approach to overcome the negative symptoms you may be experiencing. Together, you will explore the negative core beliefs that have been developed and may be stopping you from experiencing self-worth and positive emotions. We can teach you the necessary coping skills that will help you actively improve your symptoms and decrease negative emotions. Depression is a common and treatable mental health diagnosis, and with the right therapeutic approach, you will find improvement. is common and it can be treated with the right approach and therapeutic relationship.
You are enough and you deserve to feel happy. Let us help. We offer mood disorder and depression therapy in Northeast Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wayne counties.