A Therapist Answers The Most Common Questions About Depression
I’ve worked with many people who are experiencing depression and working toward recovery. These are the most common questions that come up in my office. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me and I will try to help. For immediate mental health crisis, call the Colorado Crisis Line 24/365 at 844-493-8255/Text TALK to 38255 or visit http://coloradocrisisservices.org/ for walk in urgent care locations across Colorado.
1. Why am I depressed? My life isn’t so bad!
Sometimes there are triggers we can identify which set off depression, like the stress of a divorce or the loss of a loved one. Other times, depression comes out of the blue. It can be caused by a bio-chemical imbalance in your brain that seems unrelated to anything that happened in your life. People who have had wonderful childhoods with every resource available can still have depression. Someone who makes a lot of money and has everything going for them can have depression. Depression is caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors. Regardless of which type of depression you have, it feels awful and the symptoms are the same.
2. How can I be depressed at home but go to work every day?
Many people get through their days at school or work and take care of their families while depressed. They learn to put on a mask to hide their feelings or they feel numb, instead of sad, so they can go through the motions and look okay. Depression can manifest as anger and irritability or substance abuse. You can’t always tell from the outside if someone has depression.
3. Will an antidepressant medication help me? I’m not that depressed.
Yes. The most effective combination of treatment for recovery from depression is talk therapy and antidepressant medication. It’s a personal decision; but it’s worth exploring.
4. Won’t an antidepressant change my personality?
No. If it does, then it’s the wrong one. Mental health medications have come a long way from the early days when they made people feel like zombies. A good fit for you will have minimal side effects and take the edge off your moods. It’s important to find a psychiatric professional or a general practitioner who listens to your concerns and will adjust medications accordingly. Side note, it’s important to take your medication as prescribed and give it some time to take effect. For a severe bout of depression, you should stick with medication for 6 months at least. If you stop taking it the minute you feel better, you may relapse. If you decide you can’t tolerate the medication, talk to your doctor. Don’t just give up and stop taking it. I believe my role as a therapist is to share my knowledge and encourage clients to find a recovery plan that works for them. I’m not able to prescribe medication.
5. Will I always be depressed?
No. Some people have one episode of depression and never have another. Some people have more than one episode. And rarely, people have chronic depression akin to diabetes that they can learn to manage. Anyone can learn where vulnerabilities are, what triggers to pay attention to and what to do if they begin to feel unwell. Treatment helps.
6. Will I ever feel good again?
Yes. A hallmark of depression is the feeling of hopelessness. It’s as if a fog envelops everything and obscures the good stuff. Because of that, it can be very difficult to seek help or to even feel like getting up in the morning. The truth is, treatment helps, so it’s worth it to hike through that fog and do the toughest work of your life to get through it. Something different and better is around the corner, you just can’t see it right now.
7. Am I crazy?
No. Well if you are, then you share that characteristic with 4 million Americans. Depression is the most common mental health disorder. That is only counting the people who acknowledge the diagnosis at a given time, not all the people who have it and don’t seek help. Depression is an illness. Using the diabetes example again, our behaviors and lifestyle can make the illness worse or better. If you know you have depression, you can learn ways to depression- proof your life.
8. Does therapy really work?
Yes. For most people, talk therapy is really helpful. The most important thing is to find the right fit for you. There are a lot of different methods out there that are evidence based, meaning there have been scientific studies to determine how effective they are. No matter what type of therapy you choose, you have to be ready to find the right person, show up and do the work. I’ve witnessed more recoveries from depression than I can count at this point and so I am pretty optimistic about therapy.