Identifying depression: We
have all felt sad at some point. Sadness is an emotion inherent in the
human experience. We would expect to become sad about the loss of a loved
one, loss of a job, or other unexpected significant change in life. Usually
those feelings go away with time and support from others. However,
sadness can linger or occur for other reasons. Feeling sad or empty more
days than not; crying; no longer enjoying pleasurable activities; significant,
but unintended, weight loss/gain; restless sleep or sleeping too much; loss of
energy; indecisiveness; feeling worthless or hopeless – these
are symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression
can cause significant problems with our relationships, school performance, and
work. Depression affects 20% of our population at any one time.
You are not alone.
Causes of depression:
Depression can be caused by events from our past, events occurring right now,
or a biological/physical condition.
*Events from our past may
include losses of parents or other significant others in our lives; harsh
discipline or treatment throughout childhood; unrealistic expectations during
childhood; and/or physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood.
*Current events may
include job loss, financial stressors, loss of a loved one, divorce, personal
failures (real or perceived), chronic drug or alcohol abuse, and prolonged
*Physical conditions also
may create symptoms of depression, such as asthma, chronic pain, diabetes,
hyper- or hypothyroidism, cancer, menopause, multiple sclerosis, post-partum
changes, premenstrual syndrome, and lupus. Some medications
have side effects of depressive symptoms. Some of those medications
include those prescribed for high blood pressure, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease,
and birth control. Rule-out medical conditions and medications before
initiating other treatments for depression.
Depression is treatable!: Here
are some practical methods of relieving depressive feelings.
*Spend time in the sun. The sun increases the level of the chemical serotonin
in our brains. A low level of serotonin is related to symptoms of
*Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise stimulates endorphins, another set of
chemicals in our body, which produce a sense of pleasure.
*Talk to your support system. Talking relieves some of the stress and likely relieves
the worries your family and friends have for you.
*Create a peaceful environment to relax in each day, such as soothing music,
gentle light, and pleasant aromas. Sometimes it takes more than these
practical methods to relieve depression. Studies for years have shown
that the combination of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and antidepressant
medication is the most effective way to treat symptoms of depression.
Psychotherapy focusing upon your thoughts and perceptions of the events around
you, your subsequent feelings regarding your circumstances, and the resulting
behavior is most beneficial in achieving victory over your symptoms of
depression. Antidepressant medication can assist you in feeling more
motivated to address these areas in therapy. Recognize antidepressant
medication takes approximately one month to create an effect in your body and
the dose or type of medication may need to be adjusted along the way.
Depression in children and adolescents can look very different from depression in
adults, we are likely to feel down, cry, and not want to get out of bed in the
In children and adolescents, you are more likely to observe irritability and
are depressed may not make expected weight gains for their height and
age. They may make more complaints about physical problems, such as
headaches or upset stomachs. They may withdraw from their friends or
social activities. Grades in school may drop.
appear sluggish and may oversleep instead of participating in their normal
activities. They may become more argumentative than would be expected of
normal teen development, to the point their behavior is disruptive at home
and/or school. They are more at risk for substance abuse and lower grades
be effective with children, adolescents, and adults. It should focus upon
their thoughts/perceptions, feelings, and resulting behaviors.
be evaluated and prescribed by a professional trained in the treatment of
depression in younger people. Such a professional could be a pediatric
psychiatrist. The effects of medications on younger children can be very
different from the effects of the same mediation in adults.
Effective conflict resolution frequently begins with communication.
the problem. Remember the problem is what is creating the uncomfortable
feeling in you. Also, remember the behavior or situation is the problem,
not the other person. This method creates a team-work atmosphere where
you and the other person work together to solve an identified problem. It
avoids having one person being the problem, or the loser, and the other person
being the winner. Conflict resolution should not be a win-lose process.
to discuss the problem when you and the other person are not
emotionally-charged. Take some time to cool off and agree to reconvene
and discuss the facts associated with the problem.
and discuss each person’s feelings associated with the problem, such as, “I
feel sad, disappointed, left out, etc. when this happens.”
a solution to the identified problem. The solution should be mutually
acceptable to both individuals. The solution should be applied
consistently any time similar problems arise.