"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
- Leonard Cohen
"Pain insists upon being attended to."
- C.S. Lewis
Please know that I have helped many people feel better. It is important to not give up. Depression is highly treatable. Some people know they are depressed, while others just know that something is wrong. Maybe you feel miserable or "blah" nearly all the time. Or you may have been depressed for so long that you don't recognize the symptoms and just assume that this is the way you are. Do any of these questions fit for you?
If you answered "yes" to some of these questions, you may be depressed.
- Do you feel sad, angry or more irritable than usual?
- Do you have low self-esteem? Do you tend to feel guilty?
- Do you worry a lot? Do you sometimes find yourself thinking about the same things over and over again, or can't get things out of your head?
- Are things that used to be enjoyable no longer enjoyable? In fact, do you wonder what the point of life is?
- Are you more forgetful? Do you have difficulty concentrating?
- Are you sleeping more than usual? Or, conversely, are you having a hard time sleeping? Are you waking up a lot in the night?
- Do you feel more tired than usual, like you just can't get going? Or the opposite, do you feel restless?
- How about food? Have you put on weight recently? Or, have you lost your appetite? Have you gained or lost more than 5% of your normal weight without trying?
- Do you think about death a lot? Do you wonder if people would miss you if you were gone? Do you think about how you would kill yourself if it came to that?
- Have these feelings lasted for more than two weeks?
Facts about Depression
- Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that can lead to suicide.
- Sometimes people with depression mistakenly believe that the symptoms of depression are a "normal part of life."
- Clinical depression affects people of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups.
- One in four women and one in 10 men will experience depression at some point in their lives.
- Two-thirds of those suffering from depression do not seek the necessary treatment.
- Depression can co-occur and complicate other medical conditions.
- More than 80% of all people with depression can be effectively treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.
Depression and Biology
- Psychotherapy has come a long way towards understanding and helping people with depression. Science is closing in on understanding the genetic and biological underpinnings. Psychotherapy, often combined with medication, has made significant differences in reducing the suffering of depression.
Nobel prize winner, Eric Kandel in "A Biology of Mental Disorder" (Newsweek, July 13, 2009) wrote
The most convincing scientific progress in psychiatry in the past decade has had little to do with genomics. It is the rigorous, scientific verification that certain forms of psychotherapy are effective. This is perhaps not surprising. One of the major insights in the modern biology of learning and memory is that education, experience, and social interactions affect the brain....Insofar as psychotherapy works and produces stable, learned changes in behavior, it can cause stable anatomical changes in the brain. We are now beginning to measure such changes with brain imaging. If a person with obsessive-compulsive neurosis or depression undergoes psychotherapy-and if the treatment is successful in changing behavior-the treatment will cause a reversal in the biological markers of these disorders.
Depression and Medication
- I am not a physician, so I do not prescribe medication, but I do find it a helpful adjunct to therapy. I understand that many people don't like the idea of taking medication. If medication can help you feel better, that is a good thing. Why feel bad any longer than you already have? I do not believe there is any virtue in unnecessary suffering. The combination of psychotherapy and medication has consistently proven the most effective in reducing suffering, lifting depression and helping people return to normal functioning.
Medication is no "silver bullet", though. It can take a while to find the right dose or the right combination of medications. Everyone is different. What works for one person, may not work for another. The dosage is not an indicator of how depressed you are. A small dose does not mean that you are less depressed than your friend who takes a larger dose. It just means that you have different brains. Whether you decide to take antidepressants or not, is your decision. I will work with you either way and respect your decision.
Once again, it is important to not give up. I would like to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.