by, Melissa Skinner, M.A., LCPC
It’s very normal for a persons mood to fluctuate, but in some cases these changes can become debilitating. There are different grades of depression from a mild depression, that most people feel from time to time, to a clinical depression or major depression. As many as 8% of the US population has experienced major depression (clinical depression).
Major depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental disorder characterized by at least 2 weeks of an overwhelming feeling of sadness, isolation and despair. Symptoms include feeling sad most of the day, distressed, unmotivated and tired. There is a loss of interest in activities and often a change in sleeping and eating habits. Many people with depression also experience anxiety; almost half of all people with major depression suffer from severe anxiety. Women are twice as likely as men to experience major depression.
The mainstay of treatment for MDD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a Licensed Clinical Therapist. In some cases the combination of CBT with an antidepressant medication may be necessary. Using a Cognitive Behavioral approach, a Licensed Therapist will help the patient identify negative or false thoughts and replace them with more positive, realistic ones. The premise of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that our thought patterns and the way in which we interpret events in our lives, influence how we behave and feel. The therapist together with the patient, will work to set treatment goals and rather then focusing on the past, the focus will be on the present and on how to change patterns of behavior that contribute to the depression. The therapist will teach strategies that help counteract negative thinking associated with depression.
There are some simple techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that are helpful for anyone suffering from depression. These include identifying the problem and brainstorming potential solutions, writing down statements which counteract negative thoughts, practicing finding the silver lining in trying situations and visualizing positive outcomes. In addition to these practices, it’s always important to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, get sunlight, talk about how your feeling and seek professional help if needed.
Melissa Skinner is the founder of Northwest Counseling & Wellness and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, specializing in an evidence-based treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 872/222/3132