Depression can be treated
Major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting nearly 10% of the population, or 19 million Americans, in any given year. During their lifetime, 10%-25% of women and 5%-12% of men will become clinically depressed. People with depression are four times more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those without depression. Two-thirds of people who are depressed never seek treatment and thus suffer needlessly.
Depression sounds like this:
- I just don’t care about the things I used to care about any more.
- I can hardly drag myself out of bed, even though I’m sleeping a whole lot.
- The idea of answering my phone or the doorbell is just too much to imagine.
- I feel like things are never going to get better, and I’m terrified I’m always going to feel this way.
- I can hardly remember the last time I laughed or had fun.
- I just don’t have the energy to go to classes or to take a shower most days. I mean, why bother?
- I’m such a loser for feeling so low. Why can’t I just snap out of it, like Dad suggested?
- It seems like I either don’t feel like eating at all.
- I’m so embarrassed that I cried again at work today for no apparent reason.
Sometimes people who are depressed first go to their family doctors with complaints of physical symptoms rather than depressed mood. Their physical symptoms are real, but are caused by depression rather than another physical illness. Some people recognize physical symptoms more easily than emotional ones, others experience their mood in physical terms, and still others may think it is less shameful to report physical complaints.
People who are depressed tend to have a negative view of themselves, their experiences, and their future. Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this “the negative triad.” When you take this negative view of yourself, anything you do looks to you like a failure or a flop. You become preoccupied with past “failures,” or believe that minor mistakes are proof of your inadequacy.
Self-loathing is common. This can lead to a downward spiral when combined with other symptoms of depression such as lack of energy and problems concentrating. For instance, if you’ve been unable to keep the house clean or finish assignments at work, you may look to that as proof that you are a bad person. The more things do not get done at home or work, the worse you feel about yourself. In reality, you have problems at home and work because of the effects of depressive illness, not because you’re a “bad person!”
Hopelessness describes a negative view of the future in which you expect failure and the continuation of pain and suffering.– a belief that nothing will get better. Feelings of helplessness reflect a negative view about the self. Depressed individuals view themselves negatively, and have little or no self-confidence. You do not believe you have any control or that you can help yourself feel better. You may have an urge to give up, and think “what’s the use?”
Thoughts and emotions are powerfully affected by depression, and it can become difficult to believe that you can be helped or ever feel well again. However, cognitive-behavioral and other forms of psychotherapy have been proven to be effective against depression in study after study. Please don’t spend any more time suffering. Please call or email me so I can help you get started making the changes that can get you back on the road to hope.