Category: Depression

The Stigma of Depression Is On The Way Out

If you are battling depression, you are not alone.  Millions of people in the world deal with depression.  National Institute of Mental Health statistics estimate that 6.7 percent of adults in the US are likely to experience a major depression disorder in any given year. That may seem like a discouragingly large amount of people, but there are also some up-sides to depression being so widespread. Despite the huge number of people whose lives this mental health condition impacts, the stigma of depression generally paints the picture only a “sick” or “damaged” individual can be depressed. This, of course, is far from reality. As depression awareness spreads, the attitude towards America’s most common mental health disorder is slowly beginning to change.

Here are three positive signs that Depression is starting to become better understood and accepted as a mental health condition rather than a state of mind or personal problem.

  1. More people who do not have depression are starting to understand it. – As a world population, we are not always great at understanding mental illness and being able to deal with it. We are more likely to want to sweep aside mental health issues, deny their existence, or condemn mental illness because we do not understand it.  Because depression is so widespread and becoming more and more so, society is getting to comprehend it a little bit better.  One of the things that is fueling this understanding is that it is difficult these days to find anyone who has not been touched by depression.  Empathy is increased by that kind of connection.  This could mean that the future of depression is more understanding, and this could also pave the way for better understanding of mental illness in general.

  1. We are beginning to understand that depression is very treatable. – Much research has been done into the treatments for depression, and they have proven to be very effective. When people with depressive disorders receive the proper treatment, they improve quite a bit.  The most successful treatments for depression usually include cognitive behavior therapy, antidepressant medication, and a variety of alternative therapies including acupuncture, meditation, and biofeedback.  A combination of therapies can be very successful at treating different kinds of depression.  The sooner a depression sufferer starts to receive treatment after symptoms present themselves, the better the chances will be of a successful recovery.

  1. More forms of depression treatment are becoming accepted and the options are growing. – There are new medications that could be coming to the market in the next few years that could treat depression faster than the antidepressants that are currently available. Expected to be available as soon as 2017, ketamine, an anesthetic, is currently being studied as a potential ingredient for antidepressant medication.  A new therapy calls positive psychology is being tested as well.  Positive psychology works on building “positive emotions, character strengths, and a sense of meaning” instead of the typical approach that works on eliminating negative feelings first.  According the practitioners, positive psychology focuses on “build what’s strong” rather than “fix what’s wrong.”

New Treatments For Depression

Another kind of new treatment that is being explored is brain stimulation through a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.  This non-invasive technique involves electromagnetic pulses that are sent through a coil to targeted areas of the brain.  In many people who suffer from depression, there are certain areas of the brain that are underactive and this FDA approved treatment can help to activate those areas.  Research is also being done into surgically implanted devices for deep brain stimulation similar to those that are used on Parkinson’s disease patients.  These devices could work similarly to the electromagnetic coils and be a long term solution.

As for new therapeutic methods, cognitive behavior therapy is still the stand out form of treatment.  Recently, medical professionals have determined that long term cognitive behavior therapy rather than the typical short term could be a better solution to helping to curb depression and some of mental illnesses.  The current research has been suggesting that stress is one of the leading causes of depression.  If the stress is not adequately dealt with as it happens, it could turn into depression.  Long term therapy can help you to learn to adequately deal with stress.  The long term therapy could very well be part of the solution for dealing with the stress.

Together, We End The Stigma of Depression

All of these items are indicators that the stigma that surrounds depression and mental health conditions in general could eventually become a thing of the past.  People who have depression may not feel as though they need to hide their condition for fear of being judged or ridiculed.  Depression sufferers should always ask for help when they need it.  Getting treatment is the best defense and the surest way to be able to overcome this potentially debilitating disease.

depressed woman with text in forefront

There Are Different Types of Depression

The term “clinical depression” is tossed around quite a lot as if people believe that there is only one kind of depression.  But what most people do not realize is that, like with anxiety, there are several different kinds of depression.  There is some overlap between the different types of depression, but they have very distinct criteria that defines each one.  Typically, the differences in the criteria for defining each form of depression comes in the severity of the symptoms, triggering events, co-occurring symptoms, and many other factors.  Understanding the differences is important because the treatment for each type of depression is different as well.  There is no type of treatment that is the going to be approached in the same way for each type of depression.

Major Depressive Disorder

Millions of people are afflicted by Major Depressive Disorder.  Major depressive disorder can onset gradually or suddenly.  The key symptoms of major depressive disorder is that the sufferer experiences depression ranging in severity from mild to debilitating for at least two weeks solid.  Often, it lasts quite a bit longer.  While it is possible for major depressive disorder to be an isolated incident in the life of the sufferer, it is more likely to be an ongoing battle.

Some of the other symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • a loss of energy
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • feeling run down
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • changes in weight and appetite
  • difficulty thinking and concentration
  • trouble making decisions
  • loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • depressed mood.

Typically, therapists believe that in order for a patient to have major depressive disorder, he or she needs to exhibit at least five of the symptoms mentioned above.

Bipolar Disorder With Depressed Mood

Another one of the biggest types of depression is Bipolar Disorder with Depressed Mood.  Sometimes this is referred to as manic depression or bipolar depression.  This type of depression is much like major depressive disorder.  It presents with similar symptoms, and the criteria for diagnosis is the same; , the sufferer will have had at least one episode of mania or hypomania.  Mania and hypomania are described as including unusually high levels of energy, feelings of grandiosity, limited sleep, and excessive participation in activities that are highly pleasurable.  With bipolar disorder with depressed mood, the depressive episode usually directly follows a manic or hypomanic episode.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is also similar to major depressive disorder, but is it generally less severe.  Dysthymic disorder suffers are typically diagnosed when they have experienced symptoms for at least two years and present with at least two of the average symptoms which include a sense of hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or chronic overeating, fatigue, low self-esteem, and problems concentrating or decision making.  Without the proper treatment, it is possible that the symptoms of dysthymic disorder will persist for years.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood is usually a short term affliction, but can linger for a long time without the proper treatment.  When life gives us stressful events, it can sometimes be difficult to adjust to a new situation or change the ways that we operate in order to accommodate a new situation.  Often adjustment disorder is caused by a single significant personal loss such as the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  It can also be caused by several events that happen over a shorter period of time.  This can potentially create an adjustment disorder with depressed mood.  The symptoms are problematic enough to disrupt the regular life of the person suffering, but they do not meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder.

Get A Professional Opinion About Your Type Of Depression

Clearly, the symptoms for all of these depressive disorders and the other depressive disorders that are not mentioned have a certain amount of overlap, yet they all have distinct criteria that separates them from each other.  The treatment for each kind of disorder is usually therapy and medication, but the methods and the medications used are different for each type of depression.  There are also many new and different kinds of therapies that are being tried and tested for use with these different kinds of conditions.

The most important thing is to get the right kind of treatment for the type of depression that needs to be treated – determining what type of depression a person is dealing is best left to professionals. Contact our office to set up an appointment. We are here to help.

Depression in Senior Citizens

While many believe it to be true, depression is not a normal part of the aging process.  However, many older people begin to suffer from depression as they age.

  • The lessening of health and mobility
  • The possibility of forced retirement
  • The demands of caring for an aging spouse
  • The loss of a spouse and many others closest to you
  • Taking a back seat to the lives of your family members

Many of the events of older adulthood can put you at risk of depression, but when it is correctly diagnosed, it is highly treatable.

A Common Issues Being Overlooked

Senior depression is under diagnosed.  Many doctors can account for symptoms such as insomnia or fatigue as the normal signs of getting older.  Some seniors are reluctant to disclose all of their symptoms to their doctors for fear of looking weak or being forced into an assisted living situation.  In many cases, depression in older adults comes out when another disease or illness comes out.  Many of the symptoms of depression are misinterpreted as symptoms of an existing condition.

Identifying Depression In The Elderly

In order to diagnose depression in seniors, doctors will often administer a Geriatric Depression Scale test that is 30 questions of yes or no that are designed to screen for depressive symptoms in geriatric patients.  Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory Loss
  • Irritability
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities that once brought pleasure
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Fear of death

Should any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks and become strong enough that it influences your social, professional, or familial life, seek medical attention immediately.

There are many different circumstances that can bring on depression.  Particularly with senior citizens, a fear of death and the loss of the people to whom they have been the closest can bring on depression.  Losing your spouse and your closest friends is going to be difficult at any age.  It is particularly difficult for seniors who sometimes have only those similarly aged people to depend upon.  A woman with no children who loses her spouse is likely going to feel very alone in the world.  This can bring on feelings of depression.  Medical difficulties such as the use of certain medications, mental disorders common to people who are aging such as dementia, or vascular problems can bring on depression in older people.

Treating Depression in Senior Citizens

When a doctor suspects that a patient is suffering from depression, he or she will want to rule out any potential physical causes of the illness.  You are likely to receive a full physical exam and a number of common medical tests such as blood test, livers tests, and thyroid tests.  Provided that these tests exclude a physical cause, your doctor will then proceed to the conventional psychological testing for depression.

Generally, senior patients response very well to the typical depression treatments of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.  The recovery rate for seniors is very high once the condition is diagnosed.  The more difficult part of the treatment for depression in seniors is lifestyle modification.  In younger people, one of the suggestions that is often offered is to increase physical and social activity.  This can be very helpful for senior citizens as well, but it can sometimes be difficult to coordinate.  Exercise will certainly elevate your mood and help to keep you in good physical health which helps your mental health, but many older people are beyond the point where this is a possibility.  However, any movement is good movement and can be of good use.

Some seniors who experience depression because of social isolation would do well to find some other seniors in the area with whom to visit or share time together.  Sometimes it is possible for local social service organizations or church families to visit people who have limited mobility so that they can benefit from some social interaction.  Visitations can be a help not only to keep the older adults social, but also to monitor any other on-going conditions that could appear between doctor’s visits.

No one should have to live with untreated depression.  Current treatments work well enough that there should be no reason for suffering.  If you are an older adult, and you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor or seek out the help of a mental health professional.  The sooner you speak up, the sooner you will start to feel like yourself again.

How Being Active Can Help Alleviate Depression

Thinking about fun activities and ways to be active when you are going through depression can feel a bit like someone telling you that you should eat a large and heavy meal when you have the stomach flu.  But with depression, forcing yourself to be active can actually help you to heal and start to feel a little more like your old self again.  Many doctors agree that forcing yourself to be more active, even if you do not want to, can do a lot more good than it can harm.

Stop Hiding, Start Doing

During active depression, you are very likely to withdraw from the responsibilities and activities that you either need to be doing or once enjoyed doing.  You are much more likely to keep away from people because of your low mood and your lethargy.  It may seem like the best move is to stay at home and hide, but it is not actually going to make you feel better.  Continuing to be active and forcing yourself to participate in healthy activities is one of the only things that can interrupt the negative spiral of inactivity, bad moods, decreasing energy levels, and guilt in which you will find yourself.

Signs And Symptoms Of Depression

In people with depression, they often lack the energy, the motivation, or the desire to get up and do much of anything.  When the opportunity for an activity arrives, the depressed person turns back to the lethargy and the lack of motivation and does not participate in whatever the opportunity may be.  One of the best things you can do when you are depressed is to go to a movie with your friends, go to a ball game with your family, go have dinner with your in-laws, and force yourself to do it.  Do not stay home when these opportunities arise.  Staying home means that you are missing out on the chance to have an enjoyable experience, to get energized, or to feel the pleasure of doing something fun.  Staying home will be allowing yourself to dig a little deeper into that hole of depression and negativity.

Avoidance of responsibilities can also contribute to the aforementioned hole of depression and negativity as well.  When you are feeling depressed, it is usually easier to avoid the responsibilities of your home or your job.  It is easier to walk through the messy living room, ignore the mounting emails, and forget all about the piles of paperwork in favor of going back to bed or sitting and watching TV.  Unfortunately, these neglected responsibilities have a habit of coming back with a vengeance or building up to the point where the guilt is overwhelming.  As the evidence of your neglect builds up, the worse the backlash will be when these tasks remain uncompleted or the bigger the hole you have dug for yourself gets.  Making yourself take care of your responsibilities before they get out of hand is part of staying active.  If you take care of things right away, there is no way for them to pile up and become overwhelming to the point where you are no longer able to deal with them.

Remain Patient With Yourself and Stay The Course

It will not happen immediately, but making these small changes in your life can make a big difference in your depression.  As you work in more activities that you find pleasurable and meet more and more of your responsibilities, you will find that you will start to feel better about yourself.  The enjoyment and the energy and the satisfaction that you get from these activities can go a long way toward reversing the spiral of depression and toward giving you a more positive mental landscape.  There is not a magic cure for your depression.  You cannot expect that doing one activity is going to change your depression overnight.  However, the more you force yourself to do and the more you talk yourself into, the better you are going to feel.  There are lots of meaningful ways that you can remain active, but the first step is to say yes to that first activity.

Fighting Childhood Depression

“Depression and anxiety are common, so common, they are kind of normal.  Depression and anxiety are treatable.  You can get better.”

This quote comes from a school psychologist at Byram Hills High School in New York. Cases of depression in school-aged children are becoming more prevalent as more counselors are being asked to look out for it.  In the age of cyber bullying, more children are unable to escape being ridiculed by their classmates.  Before cyber bullying came into popularity, children could go home at the end of the school day and walk away from the other children.  The problem was still severe, but it was less of a 24 hour a day torment.  Because of all of this, children are becoming more and more depressed and anxious.

 What Parents Can Do To Combat Depression in Children

Parents or guardians are the front line of defense when it comes to children getting the help that they need to fight depression and anxiety.  There is still quite a lot of stigma that surrounds getting professional help for your child, but your concerns should never stand in the way of your child’s well-being.  Parents or guardians can often take it very hard when a child needs help that is beyond what they can handle at home.  But you must keep in mind that professionals are trained to deal with these kinds of difficulties while parents are not.  There are; however, a number of things that you can do to help when you child is depressed.

Remember that depression is a disease.

Say this to yourself so that you can really remember it.  It is important to remember that depression is a disease so that you can stop blaming yourself for the suffering of your child and so that you can remember that you child is indeed suffering.  He or she does not know what to do about all of these difficulties that he or she is having.  Explaining depression as an illness might be easier for your child to understand.

Let your child know that he or she is going to be okay.

Kids do not always understand sickness.  They just know that how they are feeling is not okay.  Encourage your child to let you know how he or she is feeling.  Children often hide things from their parents.  They do not want to talk about anything difficult, and they do not want to say anything that is going to hurt you or get them in trouble.  Be sure that your child knows that you want to help, and you will need to know what is going on and how he or she is feeling if you are going to be able to help.

Talk to your child.

Any parent or guardian who has ever asked a child how his or her day was and gotten a one word response will know that this is as difficult as almost anything else especially when dealing with a particularly taciturn child.  He or she will need a safe space to be able to talk about the feelings that are coming up.  You may need to provide an opportunity that is free from distractions and free from stress so that your child can open up about his or her feelings.

Encourage your child in therapy and be an advocate for healing.

Do the research before choosing treatment options for your child.  You will need to be able to be supportive in the treatment options that are offered to your child, and if you do not believe in them, you will not be able to convince your child to believe in them.  You are also going to need to take charge of the treatment your child receives.  You may have to be tough to make sure that your child takes his or her medication or attends the appropriate therapy sessions.  Make it clear that you do these things because you want your child to feel better.

Be patient.

Nothing can be healed overnight.  It will take some time for your family to heal and for your child to heal.  Be patient and keep your spirits up.  Things will get better for you and for your child.  If you feel like you need more help, seek therapy for yourself or for the other members of your family.

Caring for a Partner with Depression

Living with someone you love who has depression is not an easy undertaking.  You will need to be prepared to be supportive and compassionate and caring even though you may be thinking that your loved one is an adult who should be caring for him or herself.  Depression is a disease.  There is no getting around that.  And while it is definitely difficult for the sufferer, it is also difficult for the people who have to live with the sufferer and who love him or her.  In a typical relationship, there would be some give and take, some caring that goes both ways.  Ideally, you and your partner would be able to share the load of living, but depression does not allow for that.  Depression takes away the energy that one partner has and makes him or her incapable of dealing with the normal tasks of living.

What You Can Do To Care For A Partner With Depression

There are quite a few things that you can do to help your partner and help yourself cope with depression.  One of the first things that you should do is get yourself a depression education.  If you have little experience with this disease, read up or talk to people who know.  Get to recognize the signs of worsening depression.  You are only going to be really helpful in a meaningful way if you understand what is going on.

You should encourage your partner to get treatment.  There are treatments available that really work.  While your loved one may be susceptible to continued bouts of depression once treatment is completed, he or she will be better equipped to handle anything that comes along after getting the appropriate help.

Keep in mind that depression can be a big deal.  Do not take it for granted that your partner will get over it on his or her own.  It can be very frustrating for you to have a partner who is not your partner.  He or she will say or do hurtful things, but you have to remember that depression is a disease just like any other.  There is little chance that your loved one is just going to snap out of it without the proper assistance and the support that only you can give.

While you can be there to help your partner, you should not be doing everything for him or her.  Picking up some extra chores around the house to lighten the load is acceptable, but there is no reason for you to be living your partner’s life for him or her.  On the other hand, when it comes to treatment, you may need to take on more responsibility.  People who suffer from depression often do not have the energy needed to make treatment decisions or do the appropriate research.  You can help by doing the research, narrowing the options, and presenting them to your loved one.  For example, you started looking for treatment options for your partner.  You could find several small support groups.  Narrow the options down to two that are the closest to your home.  Present these options to your partner and offer to help him or her get to one.

Facilitating treatment is one of the best things that you can do for your loved one.  He or she wants to feel better just as much as you want him or her to feel better.  A depressed person is likely to feel apathetic and hopeless which means that he or she may give up on treatment before the real work begins.  But you can be there to help him or her follow through with a treatment plan so that you can all get the help that you need.

Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Your Own Well Being

During all of this care for your partner, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself.  If you let your own needs go for too long, you are going to be of no use to your partner or any of your other family members.  Letting yourself get too overworked or too stressed out can mean that you are not being the best caregiver that you can be.  Take some time for yourself now and again.  If your partner needs to be taken care of by someone else for a weekend so that you can get away, call in a friend or a relative to help.  If you need to spend some time with your kids and not think about depression, do.  Your well-being is just as important as your partners.  Taking some time for self-care can make you into a better caregiver and a better partner.

What is Depression?

Creativity and Depression

Some of the most famous celebrities have struggled with Depression. The list of these celebrities includes Jon Hamm, Owen Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie, Zach Braff, Sheryl Crow, Anne Hathaway, J.K. Rowling, Hale Berry and Jim Carrey. In addition, many of the greatest artists and writers were also thought to have had Depression. They include: Michelangelo, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Rothko, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, T.S. Eliot, Paul Gauguin, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway.


Symptoms of Depression

Despite the clear relationship between creativity and mood disorders (a topic for another article), Depression is an illness that affects millions of ordinary Americans every day. At any one time, 5% of the American population experiences Depression and about 12% of men and 20% of women will experience Depression at some point in their lives.
The most common symptom of Depression is a deep unwavering sense of sadness. Symptoms also include:

  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep patterns (either increased sleep or insomnia)
  • Feelings of fatigue and loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite and eating
  • Feelings of irritability and restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and unjustified guilt
  • Difficulties with concentration and ability to think
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.


What Causes Depression?

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, and doesn’t always emerge as a result of negative life situations such as losses, deaths or other adverse events. From a biochemical perspective, Depression is closely associated with deficits in the neurotransmitters of Serotonin and Norepinephrine. Personalities that are easily overwhelmed by stress, have low self-esteem or that are pessimistic are also at risk. Depression does have a genetic component and those with a family history are at greater risk.
It is important to remember that Depression is not the same as sadness. Sadness is a normal, healthy human emotion. Sadness turns into Depression when the above-mentioned symptoms appear and the feelings begin to cause a disturbance in a person’s daily functioning.

To meet the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (The ‘Bible’ of mental health disorders) the symptoms must persist for at least two weeks and five of the above-mentioned symptoms must appear nearly every day during that time. In addition, the feelings of sadness must appear for most of the day every day of the two weeks to be considered Depression.

While some of the specifics appear to be haphazardly constructed (a growing criticism of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), what emerges is that the feelings of sadness become Depression when their frequency and length increases, they branch out into more mental and physical disturbances and they begin to interfere with a person’s day to day life.
Depression is a real clinical disorder that has been studied comprehensively. The good thing is that there are incredibly effective treatments.

If you or someone you know is suffering with this, give us a call today @ 800-378-9354.

How Can I Help My Depressed Brother?

This, and similar questions about siblings, extended family members, and friends are commonly heard by therapists.  There are a great deal of people that are affected by depression as they are bystanders to their loved one’s suffering, including a Depressed Brother.  Though you don’t have the power to rid your loved one of their depression, there are certainly things you can do to help to help them or a Depressed Brother.  These include:

  • Showing Compassion
  • Researching for Help
  • Establishing Personal Boundaries
  • Taking Care of Yourself

 Showing Compassion

When you see a Depressed Brother or a loved one suffering from depression, the most important thing to show them is compassion.  Reach out and let him know that you are concerned because you see he is unhappy, unmotivated, or uninterested in life in general.  Let your Depressed Brother or loved one know that you are there for him to provide support or help him to find the professional help he most likely needs.  Very often, coming together as a family and talking as a group to the Depressed Brother or suffering individual can allow them to recognize that there is a support system of people that care about him and have his best interest in mind.

Researching for Help

The next thing you can do on your own is to research depression.  Gain a solid understanding of the disorder and how it impacts those who have it.  The more you know about depression, the better you will be at supporting your Depressed Brother or loved one through their experience.  Also research the treatment of depression, including medication, therapy, and support groups.  Familiarize yourself with the best treatment options in your Depressed Brother or loved one’s area so that you may offer him educated suggestions.

 Establishing Personal Boundaries

When supporting your Depressed Brother or a loved one through depression, it is important to establish your own personal boundaries.  You want to make a conscious decision to separate the illness from your Depressed Brother or the individual who you are worried about.  Recognize that the illness comes with symptoms that are beyond Depressed Brother or loved ones control at times.  By doing this, you will not only be able to care for him more fully, but the depression will not change the way you feel about your Depressed Brother or loved one and the relationship you have.  You will also want to be aware of your own abilities in providing help and support to your Depressed Brother or loved one.  Establish boundaries for yourself in what you are willing and able to handle and when a professional should be consulted.

 Taking Care of Yourself

Finally, be sure to make self-care a priority.  If you are not at your best, you will not be able to provide the support you intend to your brother and you can easily get lost in the depression.  Take time for yourself and also be sure to spend “normal time” with your brother or loved one that is not focused solely on his depression.

Treating Depression in Boca Raton

While Depression in Boca Raton can be unexpected, overwhelming and debilitating, there are many tremendously effective treatments.  The most effective treatments for Depression in Boca Raton include Person Centered Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness.

The earlier that one seeks treatment, the better the outcomes.  With each bout of Depression in Boca Raton the likelihood of further bouts of Depression increases.  The key is to seek treatment that gives a person the skills they need to handle, manage and overcome Depression in Boca Raton whenever it may arise.  An ill-qualified therapist can have little impact and therefore it is important that when seeking treatment one ensure that the therapist is well trained and experienced and employs the most effective treatments.

There are times that medication is required in addition to therapy for Depression in Boca Raton and that should be determined by a qualified psychiatrist.  If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts they should seek emergency care immediately.

A great place to start in one’s journey for the treatment of Depression in Boca Raton is to make some basic changes to their lifestyle.  Cutting out sugars and caffeine is one such change.  Sugars and caffeine can cause rapid rises and subsequent drops in mood.  Another key component is increasing aerobic exercise.  Exercise causes a natural release of Endorphins, Serotonin and Norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters associated with positive feelings.

In addition, when feeling Depressed, people naturally tend to isolate themselves from others and withdraw from doing things that bring them joy and pleasure.  Actively seeking social contact and engaging in enjoyable activities, even when one does not feel inclined to do so, can have a positive impact in reducing Depression in Boca Raton.  If you or someone you love is suffering from Depression give us a call today.


What is Depression?

Everyone has moments in their lives where they may feel down, sad or blue.  However, these feelings typically don’t last long and pass within a few days.   When you have depression, these feelings last much longer (at least 2 weeks) and can interfere with sleep, appetite, energy and concentration and thereby affect daily life.  Depression is a common and serious illness, but too often people never seek treatment for it.  They believe it will go away on its own or are ashamed and convinced that it is some sort of personal weakness or defect.  The reality is that most people with depression can get better with treatment, even in cases of severe depression.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

Since each person is a unique individual, depression affects people in different ways, but there are some commonly known symptoms that usually indicate a person might be depressed.  These include: persistently feeling sad, numb or empty; loss of interest in previously pleasurable hobbies or activities (including sex); irritability, restlessness; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; feelings of hopelessness or pessimism; insomnia (such as waking up in the middle of the night or the early-morning) or excessive sleeping; overeating, or loss of appetite; decreased energy or fatigue; difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions; thoughts of suicide, or even suicide attempts.

What Causes Depression?

There are a number of things that can lead to depression, but it is often a combination of biological, environmental, and genetic factors.  Biologically speaking, there are a number of real changes that occur in a depressed human brain.  As a result, brain-imaging technologies, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression.  Despite this fact, these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred, nor can they be used to diagnose depression.  However, there are longstanding theories about depression that suggest that on a microscopic level chemical neurotransmitters (what brain cells use to communicate) are out of balance in a depressed brain, which over time leads real structural changes on a macroscopic level.  Environmentally, the loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, trauma, or any stressful situation can trigger a depressive episode.   Sometimes, though, depressive episodes may occur without an obvious trigger.  As for genetics, some types of depression tend to run in families, who may carry one or more genes for it that have not yet been identified.  Lastly, they can also occur in people without any family history at all.

What are the Different Types of Depression?

Major Depression or Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s sleep, appetite, energy and concentration and loss enjoyment for previously pleasurable activities.  There are times when we may feel sad, lonely, or hopeless for a few days and we talk about feeling “depressed.” But Major Depression or clinical depression is disabling and can prevent us from functioning normally. An episode of clinical depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but if left untreated can recur throughout a person’s life.  The reason for this is that each episode of depression is damaging to the brain and increases the likelihood of further episodes.  For a depression to be considered a Major Depression, one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities. The symptoms should be present daily or for most of the day or nearly daily for at least two weeks. Also, the depressive symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning.  They cannot be due to the direct effects of a substance, such as in drug abuse or the result of medications.   They cannot be the result of a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, nor occur within two months of the loss of a loved one.  However, while Major Depression can be a serious and disabling condition, it can get better with treatment.  This may involve the use of therapy and/or medications.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (previously known as Dysthymic Disorder)Chronic Depression, or Dysthymia are different terms for the same condition.  This is characterized by long-term symptoms that while not severe enough to disable a person, can prevent normal functioning or feeling well.  It results in low, dark moods that invade your life nearly every day for two years or more.  It is a less severe form of depression in that those who suffer from Dysthymia are usually able to function adequately, but might seem consistently unhappy.  People with Dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

Double Depression is when a Major Depression occurs over an existing Chronic Depression.  Between 3% and 6% of the population is at risk for this, yet many people avoid getting treatment that could save their lives.  What is important to know is that if an episode of depression is treated early enough sometimes brief psychotherapy or medication alone can help.  However, a chronic depression such as a double depression erodes and changes a person’s personality from its original state thereby leading to the need for longer psychotherapeutic treatment in order to restore a person’s personality back to its original state or an improved state.

Depressive Disorder NOS is a term used to describe any kind of depression that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the two categories above, or basically every other kind of depression.  These include: Minor Depression, Psychotic Depression, Postpartum Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Atypical Depression.  Some also consider Manic-Depression to be a kind of depression, but this is another name for Bipolar Disorder, which while also a mood disorder, is more than just a depression.

Minor Depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression.  However, people with Minor Depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder without treatment.

Psychotic Depression occurs when a person has severe depression to the point that they lose touch with reality and can begin to have hallucinations, delusions or both.   A person with Psychotic Depression may have unusual and disturbing false beliefs (delusions).  Those with Psychotic Depression may hear or see things that others don’t see or hear (hallucinations).

Postpartum Depression is form of depression which is much more serious than the “baby blues”.  As many as 75% of new moms experience the “baby blues” after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming.  However, in some women this can develop into a postpartum depression.  It is estimated that about 10 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.  This is diagnosed when a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by the onset of depression each year at the same time during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) do not get better with light therapy alone. Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can reduce Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms, either alone or in combination with light therapy.

Atypical Depression is a depression that unlike regular depression is not marked by pervasive sadness.  Instead those that suffer from Atypical Depression have overeating, oversleeping, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection and moods that worsen or improve in direct response to events.

Manic-Depression is also known as Bipolar Disorder.  It is not as common as major depression or Dysthymia and characterized by cycling mood changes that go from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

How Do Women Experience Depression?

Depression is more common among women than among men.  One reason may be due to the cyclical rise and fall of estrogen and other hormones that affect a woman’s brain chemistry.  This is evident in the fact that some women may develop depressive symptoms associated with the hormonal changes that typically occur around ovulation and before menstruation begins.  This is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).  Women are also especially vulnerable to developing depression (postpartum depression) after giving birth, when there is a sudden drop in their hormone levels.  Lastly, some women experience an increased risk for depression during the transition into menopause.   There are also life cycle, psychosocial factors and societal expectations that women experience differently and they may be linked to women’s higher depression rate.   Many women face additional stresses of balancing work and home responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents and relationship strains.

How Do Men Experience Depression?

Men and women experience depression differently.   Unlike women who are more likely to have feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and excessive guilt, men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping. They can also become irritable, angry, frustrated, discouraged, and sometimes abusive.  They are more likely than women to turn to alcohol or drugs when depressed.  Some will spend more time at work to avoid talking about their depression with family or friends, or behave recklessly.

How Do Children Experience Depression?

– Courtesy of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Facts for Families

Not only adults become depressed. Children and teenagers also may have depression, as well. The good news is that depression is a treatable illness. Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with a child or adolescent’s ability to function.  About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Children under stress, who experience loss, or who have attention, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Depression also tends to run in families. The behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. Child and adolescent psychiatrists advise parents to be aware of signs of depression in their youngsters.

If one or more of these signs of depression persist, parents should seek help:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior

A child who used to play often with friends may now spend most of the time alone and without interests. Things that were once fun, now bring little joy to the depressed child. Children and adolescents who are depressed may say they want to be dead or may talk about suicide. Depressed children and adolescents are at increased risk for committing suicide. Depressed adolescents may abuse alcohol or other drugs as a way of trying to feel better.  Children and adolescents who cause trouble at home or at school may also be suffering from depression. Because the youngster may not always seem sad, parents and teachers may not realize that troublesome behavior is a sign of depression. When asked directly, these children can sometimes state they are unhappy or sad. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for depressed children. Depression is a real illness that requires professional help. Comprehensive treatment often includes both individual and family therapy. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are forms of individual therapy shown to be effective in treating depression. Treatment may also include the use of antidepressant medication. For help, parents should ask their physician to refer them to a qualified mental health professional, who can diagnose and treat depression in children and teenagers.

What are Some Coexisting Conditions that Occur in Depression?

There are a number of things that can cause depression, result from depression or amplify depression.  When this occur the identification and treatment of these other conditions is important because the coexistence of depression with other illnesses compounds them all.  This leads to more severe symptoms, more suffering, greater duration of all coexisting conditions and greater medical costs.  Regardless, co-occurring illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated, in order to improve the overall outcome for the individual.

Depression can occur with many serious medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, seizures, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.  Sometimes hormone or thyroid problems can lead to depression.  Lack of vitamins and poor nutrition can lead to it as well.  Additionally, many psychiatric conditions that are not adequately treated can lead to depression as the afflicted individual gets more and more worn down.  These include ADHD, Anxiety Disorders (post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder), movement Disorders, and the list goes on.  Furthermore, people who are suffering may try to self-medicate and end up with a substance abuse problem, though the reverse is also true in that many substance of abuse or dependence (such as alcohol) can in excess lead to depression.

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