What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder with symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. It’s a complicated disorder because it can negatively impact so many aspects of a person’s life, from physical health and job performance to parenting and personal relationships. People who are depressed feel helpless and hopeless that life will never improve.
Depression is cause by a combination of family history, personal temperament, physical health, quality of relationships, life events, chemical imbalance, and many other factors. Because it so frequently shows up in combination with other medical and psychological problems, it’s important to get a complete physical examination from a medical doctor as well as a diagnosis by an experienced, well-trained therapist.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms for depression vary widely by individual and severity, but may include:
- Feeling sad and/or irritable
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
What You Can Do Right Now
- Recognize depression early. Depression can happen to anyone. It’s not a character defect, a weakness, or a shameful condition. It’s a serious disorder that no one is immune to.
- Engage in your life. If you are depressed, you may feel like you don’t have an ounce of energy or motivation to tackle depression. And yet, recovery requires your active participation. Be willing to take the first step, even though it’s not easy.
- Build your skills. Learn why you are vulnerable to depression and specific ways to become more resilient by breaking unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Developing good coping and relationship skills can reduce both the frequency and severity of depression episodes.
- Find the right therapist. Look for therapists with training and experience in treating depression, as well as someone who is warm, supportive, and goal-oriented. Use short telephone interviews to shop for a good fit with potential therapists. Ask about how they approach problems like yours.
- Be optimistic. You have every reason to believe you can get better with effective treatment. While anti-depressants are not a cure, they can be very helpful to some people in managing depression. Whether or not you choose to use medicine to manage your symptoms, therapy gives you the long-term skills you need to live a productive, fulfilling life.
Don’t Suffer Through Another Day
Only one in four people who suffer from depression seek help, despite the wide availability of effective treatment options.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks depression as the fourth most debilitating condition on earth…just below heart disease, cancer, and accidents. And it’s dramatically on the rise worldwide. As life gets more complicated and challenging, too many of us end up isolated from those who can be a source of comfort and support.
What can we do? Families who are close, supportive, and teach good problem-solving skills to their children reduce the risk of experiencing depression or passing it on to the next generation. Early diagnosis and skillful intervention by a qualified therapist leads to good outcomes for people who are willing to do the difficult but rewarding work of recovery.
If someone you love suffers from depression, talk about an action plan and help him or her stay engaged in life. But remember—only the person who is depressed can choose to fix it.
Offering Extra Support
About Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are relationship experts. They work with individuals, couples, families, children, adolescents, and the elderly, providing support and perspective as patients struggle with life’s challenges.
Licensed by the State of California, MFTs are psychotherapists who are uniquely trained and credentialed to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of issues so individuals achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive relationships and social adjustment.
The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) is an independent statewide non-profit organization made up of over 32,000 practicing marriage and family therapists. CAMFT is dedicated to advancing marriage and family therapy as a healing art, science, and mental health profession. In fact, CAMFT sponsors CounselingCalifornia.com so Californians can gain access to qualified local experts who can help.
It’s easy, convenient, and private.
Seeking a Marriage and Family Therapist or other mental health professional to assist with life’s difficulties is a sign of courage and a step in the right direction. Always ask about a therapist’s special areas of expertise (i.e. anger management, Autism, relationship counseling) before you engage them to ensure it’s the right fit for you.
CounselingCalifornia.com is a California-wide interactive, online directory that is user-friendly and searchable by name, location, and area of expertise. It’s your introduction to one or more qualified psychotherapists who hold a California license.
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