Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest and/or pleasure. With 3 million cases diagnosed each year, Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. Over 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, making it the leading cause of disability in the world. It causes hundreds of millions of disability days from work, accounting for billions of dollars in lost work days every year.
How Misunderstood is Depression?
It is more than just having “the blues” or being sad. People with clinical depression cannot just “snap out of it”. People who do not have depression may not fully understand what the afflicted person is experiencing. As a result they may draw their own conclusions or offer their own “solutions” to what the person is dealing with. When this happens, the depressed individual may withdraw even further, feel misunderstood, and second-guess or doubt their own feelings.
Symptoms can occur every day or most of the day and can include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
In younger children, symptoms could include clinginess, refusing to go to school, and poor appetite, physical complaints like stomach aches, headaches, noticeable changes in social activity or poor academic performance (in addition to any of the symptoms listed above).
For teenagers, symptoms may include poor performance and attendance in school, feeling misunderstood, extremely sensitive, abusing alcohol and drugs, poor self-esteem, overreaction to criticism, promiscuity, aggressive and/or risk-taking behavior, self-harm, changes in sleep patterns, avoiding social interaction and suicidal thinking.
In older adults, symptoms of depression could be misdiagnosed as other medical issues, such as: memory difficulty, physical aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite, social isolation, and suicidal thinking.
If you or someone you know has been experiencing many of these symptoms persistently for a couple of weeks or more, you should seek professional help.
For more information about Depression, click on the following link:
Other Mood Disorders
Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression): A mood disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. Symptoms of mania may include: high energy, reduced need for sleep, unusually intense emotions, marked change in activity, hyper-verbal, engage in risky behaviors, promiscuity, racing thoughts, delusions of grandeur. These symptoms need to occur for at least 7 days, while the depressive episode typically lasts at least 2 weeks. There are other less severe, yet also difficult to manage mood disorders, such as:
Bipolar II Disorder: hypomanic and depressive episodes, but not full blown manic episodes. A mild form of mania, hypomania has been associated with creativity and productivity. The change in seasons (e.g. spring, summer) can produce hypomanic-like symptoms, like motivation to take on a house project, “spring cleaning”, increased energy. It can be beneficial as long as it is goal-oriented and realistic.
Cyclothymia numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years. These symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for hypomanic and depressive episodes.
Dysthymia: a persistent depressive disorder that is a continuous chronic form of depression. The depressive symptoms usually come and go over the years and typically don’t disappear for more than a couple months at a time. Although it isn’t as severe as Major Depression, Dysthymic symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe.
My Treatment Approach
Using Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), I focus on how my client’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect your feelings and behavior. CBT aims to teach the client effective coping strategies for dealing with different issues and problems throughout the person’s life. I also employ a direct approach, challenging irrational thoughts and maladaptive behaviors promoting changes through self-awareness. Humor is incorporated into the treatment to help alleviate pressure as well as to provide perspective when dealing with the symptoms and other contributing factors of the depression.
There are instances when my clients need to explore pharmacological options to assist with the depressive symptoms. I assist them with finding appropriate medical professional referrals who can further evaluate and prescribe medications if necessary.
As an alternative to medication, and/or an additional treatment modality during therapy sessions, I use Alpha-Stim (cranial-electrotherapy stimulation-CES). CES is an FDA cleared treatment for depression, anxiety, and insomnia. For additional information about Alpha-Stim, go to: