What are Symptoms of Depression?

Depression is more than just sadness. It is often accompanied by:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Various physical complaints
  • Disruptions in patterns of sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Individuals experiencing depression may notice a loss of interest or pleasure in activities which once felt enjoyable. They may notice decreased energy and motivation, feeling fatigue without much physical exertion. Even small tasks, such as bathing and brushing teeth, can feel like a burden or become almost impossible. Some individuals experience suicidal ideation, feeling as though others would be better off if they were not around.

What Causes Depression?

  • Genetics. First-degree relatives of individuals with major depression have a higher risk of developing depression themselves.
  • Adverse experiences in childhood. Stressful life events in childhood, particularly when stressors are chronic, have been found to precipitate the onset of depression.
  • Temperament. Negative affectivity and pessimism which includes blaming oneself for negative outcomes is a well-established risk factor for depression.
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic illness
  • Other causes. This includes but is not limited to hormonal imbalances (e.g. female sex hormones, testosterone, thyroid) and nutritional deficiencies as a result of poor diet. Additionally, increased production of chemicals in the body as a result of chronic stress, inflammation, and exposure to toxins are gaining more attention for their role in depression.

Treatment for Depression

During our initial session we will discuss what brings you to therapy and work to identify specific symptoms you may be experiencing. I will guide you through a biopsychosocial assessment which includes an exploration of your medical, work/school/military, substance use, family/social and psychiatric history. We will also discuss your typical daily routine including diet, sleep hygiene and exercise habits. This assessment will help each of us begin to identify and understand possible underlying causes for your depressive symptoms.

I typically use an approach known as behavioral activation when beginning work with individuals experiencing depression. I also believe a recent physical examination, including lab work, is important to complete in the initial stages of treatment. Additionally, we will move toward identifying factors you believe contribute to depressive symptoms. Relapse prevention and building resilience toward future depressive episodes is another important aspect of recovery. In beginning your work with depression it’s important to understand that you can get better, even when it seems all hope is lost.