Depression: Just a Phase or is this a Pattern?
- Do you wake up feeling exhausted and dreading the day?
- Do you have trouble concentrating, being productive or completing basic tasks?
- Are you feeling depleted, defeated, discouraged or chronically empty?
- Have you been withdrawing from loved ones, feeling too emotionally drained to connect with others?
Living with adult depression can be a troublesome and isolating experience. Adult depression can make it difficult to experience joy, complete day-to-day tasks and to engage with the people in your life, even those closest to you. Eating and sleeping patterns can change (too much or too little of either is not healthy); self-medicating behaviors – such as using drugs or alcohol, shopping excessively or turning to food to self-soothe – can develop. When you’re depressed and know that you are not at your best, a self-critical voice can take over, and feelings of guilt, shame and despair can also ensue. It’s common for people struggling with depression to blame themselves for feeling so miserable, which can lead to further isolation and self-judgment, creating a downward spiral that is difficult to correct.
- Is Anxiety Interfering With Your Life?
- Do you constantly feel tense or on edge?
- Are you experiencing illogical, racing or obsessive thoughts?
- Are you easily triggered, constantly wired or unable to relax?
- Have you developed a pattern of avoidance or procrastination?
- Do you often feel a sense of panic or an impending sense of doom?
- Do you wish you could find a way to turn off your frantic thoughts, feel more comfortable in your body and breathe – even if just for a few minutes?
Living with heightened anxiety can be a painful, frustrating and, for some, a frightening experience. Anxiety is often accompanied by excessive worry, sometimes over seemingly small issues, which can create both an emotional and physical sense of tension and dread.
Chronic stress or dread can make it difficult to concentrate and complete tasks. These feelings can also alter your sleeping and eating patterns. Many people facing ongoing anxiety try alleviating their discomfort by avoiding situations or people that trigger their distress. Unfortunately, avoidance tactics can make things worse and develop into a pattern of chronic procrastination that can negatively impact productivity, relationships and one’s sense of self-worth.
Your Depression and/or Anxiety IS Trying To Tell You Something
Whether it’s just plain genetics or life barges in with an un-asked for trauma, abuse or crisis – there are many things that can trigger mood disorder symptoms. While most people experience mild depression and anxiety now and then, heightened suffering can be an indication that something is wrong or out of balance within your life. At times, there is a clear explanation for what is triggering your mood (a break-up or relationship betrayal, work crises, speaking in front of a large group or taking the bar exam, for example). However, at other times, the cause of shifting moods isn’t as apparent, which may leave you feeling confused and even more unsettled. The good news, however, is that regardless of severity or symptoms, there are many therapeutic and medical approaches that can help mitigate the spectrum symptoms, so that you can feel better and be more engaged in your life.
Many People Struggle with Mood Disorders.
In times of high stress or grief, it’s normal to feel panicked, frustrated, overwhelmed or really sad. How we handle these setbacks, however, is influenced by our support systems, personal resilience coping skills and general mental and physical health. There is a continuum of responses to stressors: some people can bounce back from setbacks with relative ease while others find it more difficult. There is no right or wrong to this continuum, and there is no point comparing yourself to others. Your response is your response. If extreme, troubling feelings persist, however, checking it out can never hurt.
Therapy can help you discover hope, pleasure, and personal fulfillment.
Talking with a trained mental health professional who is experienced and truly understands your symptoms can provide you with much relief. When in the throes of a spiraling mood shift, many individuals develop tunnel vision and feel trapped. Dr. Baxter can help you gain fresh perspectives and provide you with evidenced-based therapeutic and behavioral strategies that can help eliminate your symptoms, and any self-destructive patterns that have stepped in to help get rid of those feelings.
In your counseling sessions, you can begin to identify and address your symptoms, learn ways to take better care of yourself and those who depend on you, and learn how to live your life in more constructive and empowering ways.
In your sessions you will receive honest feedback in a safe and supportive environment as you explore what’s blocking your ability to feel sustained happiness. You will learn identify self-limiting thoughts and behaviors that you may not even know you have, and learn healthier ways to cope with stress and difficult emotions.
Throughout, Dr. Baxter will point out and remind you of your strengths and aspects of your life that are going well. You will also learn concrete, practical ways to comfort and nurture yourself and set meaningful and attainable goals.
It is possible to broaden your narrow focus and see that you can have a positive future. You can feel better about yourself and your life situation. With help, you can begin to heal, find more joy and feel like yourself again. It’s even possible to feel better than you did before. Therapy can help you get to know yourself better, develop a more concrete understanding of your needs, emotions and capabilities and feel more empowered to take healthy personal risks.
But, you still may have questions or concerns about adult depression treatment…
I’m afraid that I will have to go on medication.
Medication is not always recommended or needed for treating mood disorders. In fact, many people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety have found counseling, exercise and other lifestyle changes to be very effective for overcoming depression.
However, if other approaches are slow to take hold or are not effective, your Dr. Baxter may suggest that you meet with a board-certified psychiatrist to determine if medication is an option for your depression treatment. If medication if recommended, it is entirely up to you to decide whether to try it or not. It is my role to provide you with support, answer any questions you may have, and to carefully monitor progress and potential side effects should you chose medication. It’s also important to note that medication can oftentimes be a temporary solution to help mitigate depression symptoms so you can begin to feel better and actively engage in counseling and other important aspects of your life. Many people report experiencing best results with a medication/therapy combination.
I’m worried that if I pursue treatment, I might learn that something is really wrong with me or that I’ll lose control of my life.
You may discover something is wrong in your life, but that can be a very good thing. Think of your pain or worry as your inner wisdom crying out for attention or a sign that something in your life is out of balance. We need to be attuned to our feelings and seek to understand what they are telling us. And, addressing heavy and difficult emotions with a professional therapist will make it less likely that you’ll lose control. When you reach out for treatment, you are making steps to feel and function better and to regain control of your life.
Therapy can take a lot of time and it isn’t cheap. I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.
Therapy is an investment in yourself and in your family. By investing in yourself now, you are not only creating the opportunity to feel better sooner, but psychotherapy can also help you gain and maintain a more positive perspective on your life, which can lead to sustainable, long-term results. Your symptoms are likely impacting how you engage in relationships, influence productivity at work, increase stress and affect your family. However, working through these symptoms can create the space for emotionally healthy relationships, increase productivity and help you develop a more empowered and balanced sense of self.
Dr. Jane Baxter provides services in the DC metropolitan area. Her office is located at Dupont Circle. Please call or email to discuss any questions and concerns you may have about depression treatment, firstname.lastname@example.org 202-744-4381.
Professional Activities and Memberships
Member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists