Depression is a big word.

When I hear someone answer the question “how are you feeling?” and they say they’re depressed, I know it can mean that they’re feeling down or a little blue—we all feel down from time to time.

I also  know that they can mean that they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, that they don’t want to do stuff that they used to love to do, that they might not be as social as they normally would be, they isolate, and that their sex drive can be really low or even nonexistent. I also know that if a man answers that he’s depressed, he might feel irritable, be a little short with people, and women might answer that they’re teary, feeling a little low.

Depression sucks. And. We can all feel a little blue now and then, but it doesn’t mean that we’re depressed. In what I call “Therapy Land,” we can all have the signs/symptoms of an episode of depression. It can last a day or two and then go away (and that can be normal), and this is called “a Depressive Episode.” Having clinical depression is when these symptoms last a while, and don’t go away.

Here’s a list of what I look for:

  1. Low libido
  2. My face shows no emotion, just kinda blank
  3. Low, no or it’s hard to concentrate. This can affect my work, my decisions, or stop me from making decisions.
  4. Low energy, feeling physically tired, fatigued…even with a good night’s rest
  5. Increased Isolation…could be from friends, workers, family, etc.
  6. Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
  7. Loss of interest or pleasure in things I used to like doing, things I once enjoyed
  8. Feeling helpless/hopeless
  9. Significant weight loss/weight gain
  10. Increased agitation/irritation
  11. Thoughts of death/suicide
  12. Feeling sad/empty

Depression means

that something on the physical, mental and emotional levels of consciousness are being affected. It doesn’t just mean that I’m feeling “down,” or “just a little sad right now.” Again, all of us feel that from time to time. Depressive disorder affects my physical, mental and emotional bodies (I’m physically tired, I’m thinking along the lines of “Nothing is going to get better,” and I’m feeling sad, lonely, helpless, etc…). This is a recurring pattern that’s happening.

Much of the current medical and mental health thinking about Depression is that it’s a chemical imbalance in our brains. While I do hear and acknowledge that, I don’t limit myself to that being the only definition of Depression. Martin Seligman wrote a book called Learned Helplessness that shows us another definition of depression, one that depression can come forward in people because they learned to be helpless. They learned that whatever they did, they couldn’t control the outcome or that the outcome of something important to them was futile.

Let’s say I’m a child, I have an older sister who gets everything she wants and anytime I said that I wanted something, my wants were dismissed or ignored. In this example, I’m “learning” to be depressed.

From this point of view it’s that in my childhood, I could have been constantly discouraged to a degree that I thought that whatever I did or hoped for, it was just useless. I (either in reality, or in my perception of reality), experienced discouragement, rather than encouragement. And yes, I’ve worked and work with people who have experienced horrendous childhoods. As an example of horrendous, I mean that as a child, I could have been physically beaten because I didn’t eat the broccoli. I could have  been told “I’m stupid,” and that “I’ll never amount to shit anything,” I could be shamed because I like guys (and I’m a guy).

In all these examples, Learned Helplessness is at play. And these examples are also examples of lies that are told to us when we were young.  The truth is, I may not be able to play piano like Beethoven, it  doesn’t mean that I’m stupid. I may not like broccoli, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me for not liking it.  And when I’m told that “I’m stupid,” or that “I’ll never amount to anything,” or that I’m wrong because I’m attracted to whoever I’m attracted to…well, these are lies that we’re told.

Psychotherapy can help you find your strengths, accept your limitations, and deal with depression. One tool that I’d like to give you right now in how to deal with depression is this: Action. To work with depression I need to take actions, different ones than I’ve been taking, to set myself on a new course. In my work with people experiencing depression, or just some traits of it, I may assign different actions for you to do to make change in your life. Here’s a good first action: Give yourself some credit. If you did just ONE thing that you consider positive, acknowledge it. Yes. That’s a start.

When YOU’RE ready to make a change, to get out of this type of pain, CALL ME, EMAIL ME, we’ll set up an appointment.


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