Your Therapy

Understanding Adult Depression And Treatment Options

For those who’ve never experienced clinical depression (also called major depressive disorder), it’s hard to understand how crippling it can be. In fact, depression is not just a mental health challenge—it’s a health challenge. In North America, depression is the leading cause of workplace disability claims, affecting millions of people each year.

With many illnesses, the effects are obvious and acute, leading you to seek help right away. But the terrible irony of depression is that its most common aspects—sadness, hopelessness, disinterest in life, feelings of emptiness, loss of mental acuity—make it especially difficult to seek or even accept help.

But from decades of research, we know that depression treatment works. That said, if you’ve never sought any kind of psychotherapy, the idea can be intimidating. So, in this blog, I’ll talk a little about what happens when you reach out to a mental health professional for help with depression.

First Steps Towards Treating Depression In Adults

When I first talk to someone struggling with depression, I look for small exceptions to their current mood. By that, I mean small parts of them that are still hopeful and small actions that suggest a spark or a break from oppressive feelings of sadness. This can happen in surprisingly simple ways. For example, you might be able to briefly forget about the sadness while watching a favorite TV show, or spending time with someone whose company you enjoy. These breaks can also be moments when you were able to push through the depression and do pressing tasks, such as dropping off the kids or going to the store.

For someone mired in depression, even reading this blog is a small act of hope. It shows me that, as distressed you are, you still took the small step of researching options. And then, when you actually make a therapy appointment and show up to it, it’s really important to understand that it’s a hopeful, even courageous thing to do. We’ll explore what part of you is able to do that, what it means, and what you’re hoping for. To me, these small acts of defiance against your depression show that some part of you wants treatment. And that’s what we can seize on to, and work with.

Doing The Work—Making An Appointment For Psychotherapy

Of course, when you undertake therapy, you’re not meeting me for tea and scones! Coming to therapy can be hard work. So, why do it? Because just as physical hard work makes you stronger, through psychotherapy you can strengthen the part of you that wants to overcome depression.

The course of therapy is highly individual. It’s based on small steps where we set achievable goals and then build on these goals. For instance, if someone is struggling to even get dressed and leave the house, we might set the goal of sitting in the backyard for 10 minutes. And then next time, we may push a little harder by taking a walk or sitting on a park bench. Notice I said “we.” That’s because it’s always a collaborative effort between therapist and client. The therapist can encourage and suggest, but not dictate. The process takes some time and, as I said, it’s not a cup of tea. But these are proven therapeutic methods that really do work.

Going forward, we’ll also address overall health, including nutrition, sleep, and exercise, since all of these are part of managing depression. Some people also benefit from pharmacological therapy, under the care of their physician. But there’s a great deal of research showing that medication works best when combined with therapy. And most important of all, don’t give up hope. Clinical depression is like other long-term illnesses in that it can be effectively managed, controlled, and overcome.

Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to reach out with questions about adult depression or other mental health issues.

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