Mood Disorders: Depression and Stress

What is Depression?

Depression, which robs the person of pleasure, results from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors, and it has no single known cause.  It interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her.  Depression is a common, but serious illness, and most individuals who experience Depression need treatment because even those with the most severe Depression can get better with treatment.

What are some of the symptoms of Depression?

Everyone is different and individuals with depressive illness do not all experience the same severity, frequency, and duration of the symptoms.  Depression symptoms include

  • persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or “emptiness,”
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism, guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness,
  • irritability,
  • restlessness, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable including sex,
  • fatigue and decreased energy,
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions,
  • insomnia, hypersomnia or early morning wakefulness,
    overeating or appetite loss,
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts,
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, and
  • cramps or digestive problems that do not ease.
What is the purpose of treatment for Depression?

Psychotherapy and medication are effective treatments for this illness, which could be short-term (10-20 weeks) or longer-term, depending on the need of the individual.  I apply treatments that have proven effective for Depression, which include

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to help clients change negative styles of thinking and behaving that may be contributing to their depression,
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT),  to help the client understand and work through troubled personal relationships that may cause their depression or make it worse, and
  • Time-Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy (TLDP) to provide the client a new experience and a new understanding for a healthier sense of himself or herself, achieving a more functional interpersonal style to shape the interpersonal expectations from self and others.
What are the client benefits of therapy for Depression?

For mild to moderate Depression, psychotherapy alone may be the best treatment option for major depression. For some people, psychotherapy will be combined with medication as the most effective approach and to reduce the likelihood for recurrence.   As Depression responds to treatment,

  • feelings of hope begin to take place,
  • energy level increases,
  • positive thinking will replace negative thoughts,
  • mood will improve gradually,
  • sleep and appetite will begin to improve, as well as
  • restoring or improving function and quality of life.
What is Stress?

We all have some Stress in our lives, whether positive or negative, but continuous and unrelenting Stress can have negative effects on our physical, psychological, and spiritual life, disturbing or interfering with the normal balance of the person.  Stress can be caused by (among other causes)

  • jobs,
  • finances,
  • career development,
  • family relationships,
  • school work,
  • friends,
  • romantic relationships,
  • environmental noise,
  • pollution, and
  • health issues.
What are some of the symptoms of Stress?

Stress, if left unmanaged, can become distress, with consequences of emotional and physical pain, anxiety, mental suffering.  Some of the symptoms can include

  • feeling restless and fidgety,
  • sweating,
  • nervousness, with physical symptoms that can include nauseous stomach, muscle cramps, fatigue, increased blood pressure, and panic attacks,
  • impaired focus and concentration,
  • difficulties falling asleep, and
  • negative thinking.

Some of the behaviors that can be caused by unmanaged Stress are

  • sleeping a lot,
  • isolation,
  • avoiding activities,
  • overeating,
  • smoking,
  • drinking,
  • using illegal substances, and
  • shopping/overspending money.
What is the purpose of treatment for Stress?

Specific techniques of relaxation, cognitive restructuring, among others are utilized in helping the client to learn how to manage their stress to achieve a balanced life to accomplish more with less stress.  The purpose of techniques available is to create greater awareness and to decrease anxiety, hostility, depression, and medical symptoms.

What are the client benefits of therapy for Stress?
  • Changes in beliefs and attitudes regarding themselves and their relationship to the world,
  • Improvements in self-efficacy and motivation,
  • Enhanced ability to approach stressful events as challenges instead of threats,
  • Greater sense of control, and
  • An ability to accept events which are uncontrollable.