There are several forms of depression and symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people find it hard to believe that they have depression because they "aren't sad", but depression doesn't always equate with sadness. Some common symptoms of depression are trouble sleeping/ sleeping too much, pessimism, irritability, change in appetite (weight loss or gain), distance from relationships, little enjoyment in usually pleasant activities, lethargic/ tired, troubles with concentration, feeling excessive guilt or hopelessness. Some people with depression have suicidal thoughts, if this is happening to someone you love, or yourself please seek help immediately. Follow this link to be connected to crisis resources.
I have found as a therapist that most depression symptoms usually arise from either an organic medical condition, or are embedded in historical issues. For some people, shame (feeling like a bad person) is a major source of their depression. They often say negative things to themselves like, 'I'm a bad person', 'I'll never be good enough', 'No one loves me' and so on. Usually these messages stem from relationships we have had in formative years, trauma, or even from being bullied in school. Medical conditions can also cause symptoms of depression. For instance, most of us in Minnesota are at risk for low vitamin D, and this can be a source of lethargy, irritability, inability to manage emotions and flat out sadness. I always suggest before beginning any kind of mental health treatment, that a person go visit their primary doctor to have their labs done, that way if there are any nutritional deficiencies this can be treated at the same time.
Talking about the treatment of depression is complex. There are many schools of thought and all have value and importance in the treatment of any mental health disorder. From psychoanalytic thought, to cognitive behavioral therapy, everyone responds differently and no one person is going to need the exact same approach. I have personally found that approaching issues from a historical perspective (looking at parent-child relationships, developmental relationships or issues) are a good place to start. From there emotional identification and expression, challenging negative thinking and finding internal resources that foster continued personal growth and success are some of the basics in finding improvement.
Samantha Yerks, MSW LICSW LADC
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