Home
Sheree Gallagher, Psy.D.
Michael Bridgewater, Ph.D.
Swen Helge, PhD (1975-2010)
Services
Contact
How to find us
Newsletter
Helpful Links
Disclaimer
Summer 2011
Spring 2010
Holidays
Fall 2009


UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION

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 stress.  

*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 may 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 depression.

*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.

PARENT TALK

Depression in children and adolescents can look very different from depression in adults.  As adults, we are likely to feel down, cry, and not want to get out of bed in the morning.  

In children and adolescents,
you are more likely to observe irritability and arguing. 

Children
who 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.  

Adolescents
may 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 in school.  

Therapy
can be effective with children, adolescents, and adults.  It should focus upon their thoughts/perceptions, feelings, and resulting behaviors.  

Medication
should 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.

COMMUNICATION TIP

Effective conflict resolution frequently begins with communication.  

First,
identify 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.  

Second,
agree to discuss the problem when you and the other person are not emotionally-charged.  Take some time to cool off and agree to reconvene soon.  

Third,
identify and discuss the facts associated with the problem.  

Fourth,
identify and discuss each person’s feelings associated with the problem, such as, “I feel sad, disappointed, left out, etc. when this happens.”  

Fifth, find 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.

Top