Our mental health may be more fragile than we realize, sometimes even completely sidelining us. We each have a certain capacity to withstand distressing events or situations, accessing our personal coping skills and emotional reserves as needed. But when events begin to spiral and multiply, those reserves may become depleted and any coping skills we have can become totally ineffective. This is when a depressive disorder can set in.
Depression is a very common mental health disorder, impacting more than 17 million Americans every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression takes a toll on families and employers, as the individual suffering from depression becomes increasingly disconnected from their daily responsibilities. Depression is also hard on relationships, causing frustration and confusion, and destabilizing marriages and friendships as a result.
When depression becomes so severe that you say, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” it is time to get some help from a mental health provider. There are effective treatment methods available to help manage depression symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
The Signs of Severe Depression
It is difficult to describe severe depression to someone who has never experienced it. Family members and loved ones may wonder why you can’t just snap out of it and get back to functioning normally. It helps for these individuals to have a better understanding of just what depression, especially severe depression, looks like. Symptoms include a cluster of the following:
- Hopelessness. Negative emotions and dark thoughts begin to gather critical mass in major depressive disorder, such as feelings of hopelessness, despair, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, and shame. The individual sees him or herself in a negative light, and may blame themselves for perceived faults and flaws. As these thoughts become more pervasive and self-esteem plummets, the threat of self-harm increases.
- Changes in Eating Habits. When someone is suffering from major depressive disorder there may be a sudden change in their weight. Some may experience an increased appetite and eat more as a coping mechanism, resulting in weight gain. Others may become so depressed that they have no desire to feed themselves or take care of their nutritional needs, leading to weight loss.
- Loss of Interest. One of the predominant signs of severe depression is the individual’s sudden loss of interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. While in the darkness of depression, these individuals have no desire to attend social events or to socialize at all. This can eventually include going to work where feel forced to interact with coworkers.
- Sleep Disturbances. Severe depression can cause changes in sleep habits and rhythms. In some cases the individual wants to sleep excessively (hypersomnia). Major depression can also cause an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia), featuring fragmented sleep patterns.
- Anger or Irritability. Anger symptoms are more prevalent in depressed men, although depressed women can also exhibit mood swings and irritability. The source of the anger may be due to feeling frustrated, or possibly the result of feeling out of control and unable to shake the depression. Depression can cause the individual to be easily annoyed and even prone to violent outbursts.
- Excessive Fatigue. A pronounced loss of energy is one of the common signs of severe depression, leading to comments such as “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore.” The individual feels so exhausted they can barely function. Even daily personal hygiene or fixing meals requires too much effort, so the individual may spend the majority of time in bed due to feeling drained.
- Increased Substance Use. Individuals with depression may begin to self-medicate through the use of alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse is a reaction to feelings of despair and hopelessness and wanting to numb the emotional pain. There is a real danger that addiction can form, leading to a dual diagnosis of major depressive disorder and a coexisting substance use disorder.
- Suicidal Ideation. Pay attention if your loved one who is struggling with deepening depression begins to obsess about death, or say their loved ones would be better off without them. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 90% of the individuals who have committed suicide had an underlying mental health disorder, usually depression or bipolar disorder.
When depression has reached the point when you think, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” it is very serious. This is the point at which depression has become debilitating, severely impairing one’s ability to function normally and increasing the risk of suicide.
Different Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed in individuals who experience five or more of the diagnostic criteria most of the time for more than two weeks. To summarize:
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness
- Change in eating habits, weight gain or loss
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
- Slowed movements or thinking
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
- Suicidal thoughts
Dysthymia (Persistent Depression Disorder)
This is a type of MDD that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of milder depression, but experiences no relief of the depressive symptoms for two years or more.
This involves MDD with psychotic features. The individual may experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations in addition to the symptoms of depression. There may be a theme for the illness, such as revolving around a serious illness or fear of poverty.
Some women experience serious symptoms of MDD during and/or after giving birth. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child or themselves, and often experience severe fatigue, anxiety, exhaustion, and profound sadness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
In certain climates individuals may experience symptoms of MDD that are caused by a lack of sun exposure and vitamin D intake during the winter months. The individual may experience weight gain, hypersomnia, and isolation behaviors in addition to the symptoms of depression.
This disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The depressive episodes may last anywhere from a day or two to several weeks.
Suicide Warning Signs
Recent statistics show that more people in the United States now die by suicide than in automobile accidents, with about 44,000 Americans choosing to end their lives annually. In many instances, especially in individuals who say, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” there may be signs that an individual is despondent enough to possibly attempt suicide. These warning signs and symptoms might include:
- Symptoms of depression
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Humiliation or shame
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Isolating from family and friends
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive sleeping
- Saying they are a burden to other
- Expressing hopelessness
- Saying they have no reason to live
- Sharing that they are in unbearable pain
- Gives away prized possessions
- Talks of killing self
In the event where a loved one is exhibiting a mental health crisis or several of the warning signs, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Comprehensive Residential Depression Treatment
When someone is in the grip of depression they may not even be aware of how serious their condition has become. More often than not it is a loved one who becomes alarmed at the increasing severity of the individual’s depression symptoms that reaches out to get the person professional help. Depression treatment consists of a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. Other complementary therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training can augment the effects of the traditional therapies. Changes in diet and getting regular exercise can also positively impact mood.
Medication is considered the first-line treatment element for individuals with a depressive disorder. Antidepressant therapy involves medications available as SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, or tricyclic antidepressants that help adjust brain chemistry and hopefully alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Evidence-based psychotherapies are an effective addition to antidepressant drug therapy in treating depression. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events. Thought and behavior patters are also examined and adjusted through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Small groups discuss topics introduced by the therapist and engage in sharing their personal feelings and experiences. This provides a sense of connection and camaraderie with others who are also struggling with depression.
There is a growing trend in psychiatry to include holistic therapies among the treatment elements for depression. These activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of inner peace.
In the event that an individual is suffering from a mental health crisis, such as a suicide attempt, a higher level of care is appropriate. A residential treatment program offers acute stabilization provisions, as well as extended care for severe depression. The residential setting provides a more intensive, customized treatment protocol for the individual with severe and persistent depression.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a full-spectrum mental health center providing residential mental health treatment, transitional housing, and outpatient services. Elevation Behavioral Health believes in an integrated approach to treating depression, offering evidence-based therapies, medication management, and holistic activities for a well-rounded program. For more details about our depression treatment program, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.
Can You Go to Rehab for Depression?
When you think of rehab, you probably think most often of drug and alcohol addiction. However, many people seek help at residential treatment centers every year for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more mental health disorders. Inpatient treatment for depression can make a huge difference in the life of someone struggling with this difficulty.
If you are having thoughts about harming yourself, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Depression is not something to be taken lightly. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 3-5% of American adults are experiencing major depression in any given moment. Pause for a moment and think about this. Take a sports stadium holding 40,000 people. Statistically, that means 1,200-2,000 people in the crowd are experiencing depression. Of course, this is a generalized statistic and may not be true for any specific crowd, but it puts into perspective just how many people struggle with this difficult issue.
There are multiple different types of depression that one may experience. These may include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, substance-induced depressive disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. As there are many types of depression, it is important to seek help from a trustworthy professional.
Although there are many resources available like anxiety and depression worksheets, self-help books, and support networks, dealing with depression often requires clinical expertise and therapeutic relationships. By working with a therapist and/or psychiatrist, you can get the help you need to address the depression and recover fully. Without help, depression can cause a number of dangerous symptoms throughout our lives.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, people with depression are four times as likely to experience a heart attack as those without depression. Depression is the cause of over ⅔ of suicides in the United States, and the National Institute of Health estimates that about 80% of those who find help show an improvement of symptoms in only four to six weeks of treatment. Unfortunately, over half of people who suffer from depression never seek clinical help.
Rehab for Depression and Anxiety Near Me
Although psychotherapy, support groups, and psychiatry can all be useful in treating depression, sometimes the individual benefits from a higher level of care. There are many different treatment centers that care for people struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Some of these rehabs address co-occurring disorders, or the presence of both a mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder.
At a treatment center for depression, individuals are offered professional care to help them recover. Through various methods of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and more, the person works with a trained clinician to address their experience and build a life of recovery.
In many cases, medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers are prescribed. These medications are prescribed by a trained psychiatrist at the treatment center, and the person’s state of mind is closely monitored to see the way the medication is working. Together with the support network and therapy offered, the person can slowly begin to climb out of the depressed state.
Treatment centers that are primarily addiction treatment centers may not have the appropriate staff or program to address mental health disorders. Can you go to rehab for depression? Yes. But make sure you find a facility that is truly equipped to help. With proper help, people have the opportunity to fully recover and return to the lives they once knew or dreamed of.
When to Seek Inpatient Treatment for Depression
It may be helpful to seek help from a psychologist as a first step. As you build a relationship with a therapist, they will get to know you and your situation. Although depression often manifests in specific ways, we are all individuals. When a trained professional sees you in a clinical setting and begins to work with you to understand what’s going on, they can give you an educated recommendation.
If you think you may need help, reach out. Find somewhere that offers inpatient treatment for depression and give them a call. We can guess all we want, but the truth is that we generally can’t see the situation as clearly as an objective, trained third-party can. Although you may not feel that you need inpatient treatment, it could perhaps be beneficial.
The biggest piece here to remember is that there are professionals out there to walk you through your situation. Suffering from any depressive disorder is painful, difficult, and can leave us feeling hopeless. Nobody has to go it alone. There are people willing to guide you through finding treatment, but you need to seek help. Although it may not feel like it, depression can be treated. Sometimes it takes time and finding what works, but there are many methods of depression treatment, and psychologists and neuroscientists are continuing to learn more every day.
Every morning, the clients of Elevation engage in mindful meditation to start out the day with calmness and mental clarity. In recent years, practicing this mindfulness has become a mainstream practice, and for good reason. According to Mayo Clinic, physicians recommend meditation to help their patients manage the symptoms of a wide range of conditions, from cancer to asthma and heart disease to insomnia.
What Exactly is Meditation?
When someone thinks of meditation, images of people sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “ohm” may come to mind, but the truth is, it is simply the act of quieting the mind and focusing your attention on the present moment, and it can be done anywhere and in any position.
During meditation, when conscious thoughts arise, they’re simply acknowledged and then sent along like a leaf floating downstream. the practice has a number of far-reaching benefits for people in recovery.
Meditation and Stress, Anxiety and Depression
It’s understood that stress and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are major factors for substance abuse and relapse.
Meditation is a potent stress reliever, according to Journal of Substance Abuse. The study found that practicing the holistic method reduced incidents of stress-related relapse among participants in an outpatient addiction treatment program. Meditation also helps the brain and body respond better to stress in general, further mitigating stress as a factor in relapse.
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness helps ease anxiety and depression, which are also associated with substance abuse and relapse. Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, notes that mindfulness helps people recognize unhealthy thoughts and mindfully replace them with those that are healthier.
Becoming free of negative thought patterns is a major consideration in addiction treatment, because negative thoughts foster negative behaviors. Clarity of thought gained through mindfulness is associated with making better choices that positively impact life in recovery.
Meditation and Cravings
Regular meditation can have a big impact on cravings as well. Increased mindfulness leads to fewer negative automatic responses to cravings as practitioners learn to listen to their body and mind and respond to its cues and sensations with mindful awareness and deliberateness. As they learn to accept thoughts and feelings without judgment, evaluate their attitude and quiet the mind’s chatter, it becomes easier to respond to cravings and other negative experiences in healthy and productive ways.
Meditation as Part of a Holistic Approach to Treatment
A large body of research points to the range of benefits of mindfulness in recovery. A high-quality treatment program that takes a holistic approach to treatment offers the best chances for long-term recovery.
Beating an addiction isn’t easy, but a holistic program that addresses issues of body, mind and spirit through various traditional and non-traditional therapies like meditation can lead to real and meaningful change and a better chance of successful long-term recovery.
As Americans settle into very lengthy stay at home policies enacted across the nation, many might begin to experience some mental health concerns. After all, we are not built to go through weeks or months without our daily freedoms. Losing those personal freedoms for the sake of national health is something we have had to get accustomed to, whether we are comfortable with the edicts or not. It is the way it is, and the best thing we can do to protect our mental health during the COVID-19 crisis is to come to a state of acceptance.
In fact, the way people have responded psychologically to this event has been lined up alongside Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s infamous work, The 5 Stages of Grief. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Collectively, many of us are now experiencing the depression phase as shelter orders have lost their luster. While the measures are in place for good reason, to prevent loss of life, many are now coming to the realization that the coronavirus has caused significant unwelcome changes in daily life.
So how do we go about protecting our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic? What steps can we take to shore up our resolves and get through this event psychologically intact? While there is no magic wand to make all of this go away, there are some protective steps to take that will help us maintain our sanity for the meantime.
10 Steps to Protect Mental Health During COVID-19
It is true that our emotions have been all over the map since this began back in early March. One day we are calm and reflective, and the next day we feel agitated and irritable. These fluctuating emotions are to be expected as we wade into uncharted waters, not know what each day will bring. To help offset some of the anxiety and feelings of depression that might be taking root, consider these 10 tips:
- Practice gratitude. You wouldn’t think that there would be anything to be grateful about when every normal daily activity has been removed from your milieu. It is surprising to discover that there are plentiful things to be grateful for, especially when you realize you are still healthy and safe. Count your blessings for having a loving family, a cute pet, a roof over your head, and hope for the future. Each day, try to list 3 things for which you are grateful.
- Turn off the news. News overload can have negative effects on our mental health. Mainstream news outlets are enjoying their surging popularity and may enhance the dramatic in order to keep viewers engaged. This can lead to feelings of anxiety or distress for individuals who are sensitive or have experienced a past trauma. While it is fine to grab the headlines once or twice during the day, instead of keeping the news on all day long turn the TV off and enjoy some old reruns on Netflix for balance.
- Enjoy a simpler lifestyle. Now that we are slowly adjusting to living a very small life, we are beginning to notice some benefits of a simpler lifestyle. Instead of rushing around, racing between this or that appointment, lesson, sports practice, or a long list of errands, we are slowing down and actually smelling the roses. There is something to be said for a quieter, more leisurely pace of life.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us redirect distracting and negative thoughts that keep us feeling off-balance, drawing the mind back to the present moment. Train yourself to focus attention away from anxiety-provoking and fear-based thoughts that rob you from the pleasures of that moment in time. Be in that cozy moment, focus on the aroma of the coffee, enjoy drifting off to a different world through the book you are holding, and feel safe and secure inside that soft, snuggly blanket.
- Enjoy the sunshine. Health professionals are reminding us how important it is to have a strong immune system during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the best actions to take that will improve immunity and boost mood is getting plenty of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a byproduct of sun exposure. So, grab any opportunity you can to enjoy some time outside on a sunny day. Fresh air and sunshine are essential to our health and wellbeing, and you will also enjoy a noticeable change in your attitude for the better. If sunshine is scarce in your region, be sure to supplement the diet with some vitamin D3.
- Revisit your passions. With our usual busy lives, how many times have you looked at your bookcase and lamented having no time to read? With plentiful free time available now, grab the moment and indulge in the things you never had time for before. Read some books, make some artwork, explore new musical artists, or write a novel. We may never have the luxury of time again like we do right now to rediscover old passions or to discover brand new ones.
- Stay social. Social distancing has shown us a powerful truth—people need people. We all have varying degrees of sociability, with some of us wired toward being introverts and others as more extroverted. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, enjoying both social time and time for introspection. To nourish our need for social connection during COVID-19, which will have positive effects on our mental health, make the effort to reach out to friends and family members. With so many ways to connect with people, don’t be shy. Just check in, say hello, and ask how your friend is doing. We actually need human connection for our mental health during COVID-19.
- Stay physically active. For those who are free to get outdoors, take a couple of hearty walks, a bike ride, or a run every day. This will expose you to vitamin D through sunshine, which can help improve mood, as well as provide the many mental health benefits from regular exercise. If movement is tightly restricted, indoor exercise activities can be achieved through yoga or workout routines posted on YouTube. The videos offer a variety of toning, stretching, and movements that can keep you in shape during the lockdown.
- Keep a journal. Whether it is a leather-bound journal, a spiral notebook, or a Word document on the computer, recognize that we are living through an historic event and it would be very interesting to look back someday on the coronavirus pandemic from your own perspective. Jotting down thoughts and feelings is also therapeutic, as writing allows you to offload feelings of unrest, sadness, fear, or stress onto a piece of paper. This practice somehow releases the effects of these emotions on your psychological health.
- Stay flexible. With the coronavirus crisis, no one really knows how it will unfold over time. This virus is novel, meaning it has never existed before. As we all cycle through the cascading events together, it is good to remain as nimble and flexible mentally as possible. Try to avoid having firm expectations about how long we will have to remain at home or how the virus affects people. Collectively we will do better psychologically if we roll with events as they unfold, rather than having rigid expectations.
Signs of Deteriorating Mental Wellness
It is difficult to predict who among us will be able to manage our mental health during COVID-19 and who will struggle. Many factors play into the way we will respond to the stress and uncertainty, both in terms of the health scare and the financial fallout. We all are going to struggle from time to time as we experience the impact of the virus on our lives. However, when mental health begins to seriously deteriorate it is critical to get the professional help you need.
Be aware of the following warning signs of a serious mental health issue:
- Sudden changes in eating habits leading to unintended weight gain or weight loss
- Changes in sleep patterns, disrupted sleep, nightmares, or insomnia
- Difficulty concentrating
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Self-harming behaviors
- Heart palpitations, racing heart rate
- Increase in somatic symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, diarrhea
- Extreme mood swings
- Loss of interest
- Isolating behaviors
- Angry, violent behavior
- Experiencing delusional thoughts or hallucinations
- Suicidal ideation, obsessed with death
Most mental health providers are offering tele-mental health video services during COVID-19. If you or a loved one is experiencing the signs of deteriorating mental health during the pandemic, reach out to a mental health provider for immediate support.
Getting Mental Health Treatment During COVID-19
Mental health treatment is still readily available during this event. Many outpatient mental health programs are now providing psychotherapy and group therapy via Zoom platforms, where a licensed mental health provider will be able to offer therapy and support. There are outpatient intensive outpatient programs that are designed to be administered through video conferencing platforms.
Residential mental health providers are still operating during the COVID-19 event. These facilities have adopted all of the CDC safety guidelines to provide a clean, sterilized therapeutic environment.
Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Residential Mental Health During COVID-19
Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health center in Los Angeles. Elevation Behavioral Health has made the safety of our residents and staff the top priority, and have adhered to all the CDC safety recommendations including personal protective equipment, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of our facility, screening protocols for the virus, and practicing social distancing the best we can. If you or a loved one is in need of more intensive, customized mental health treatment, please contact our team today at (888) 561-0868.
There are many reasons why individuals suffer from alcoholism, and genetics, environmental factors and mental health issues are just a few explanations. Co-occurring disorders occur when an individual suffers from both a mental health issue and an addiction such as depression and alcohol. Though they are completely treatable, co-occurring disorders are especially delicate and require integrated clinical therapy to achieve lasting results. >/p>
Nearly a third of individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder also suffer from alcoholism. Though it can be hard to determine with certainty, in many cases the depression is present before the addiction takes place.
These numbers are compounded by the fact that 10 percent of Americans experience depression, yet more than 80 percent of those who deal with depression go undiagnosed and untreated. In the absence of professional treatment, it’s not uncommon for those suffering in silence to deepen their relationship with alcohol.
Negative Feedback Loops
Whether alcoholism is caused by depression or vice versa varies on a case-by-case scenario, but what remains the same is the impact that the two have on one another. For an individual struggling with alcoholism and depression, the negative feedback loop is self-perpetuating.
A person drinks in an attempt to feel better, only to find that the relief is merely temporary, if at all. This may lead to further attempts to self-medicate by drinking larger amounts with more frequency. Through this process, depression compounds these factors, leading the individual to quickly descend into addiction.
The seemingly endless cycle of addiction has residual social repercussions as well. Many times people find themselves not caring about anything outside of their addiction. They may be unwilling to speak with others, show up at work or do anything that might interfere with their drinking routine. The inability to listen to reason, combined with disconnection from the world around them, produces a potent fertilizer in which depression, anxiety and addiction can grow.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Quitting cold turkey can not only be ineffective, it can be dangerous. Receiving help from certified professionals through a medically supervised detox program will greatly increase chances of recovery and decrease the dangers that come along with detoxing.
Trained specialists look at the root of the addiction and mental health issue and treat them both from the very start—healing both mind and body. Peoplecan learn new ways to cope with their mental health issues and begin to discover the potential that they may have thought was gone forever.
Types of Therapy
Many dual-diagnosis treatment facilities go beyond conventional individual and group therapy, giving individuals the chance to get to know themselves again through activities like art, yoga, exercise and music. When administered effectively and adhered to, therapy can help resolve co-occurring disorders and give people suffering from addiction the tools they need to overcome obstacles in a healthy and positive way.
Anyone who is suffering from alcoholism or who may be developing a drinking problem shouldn’t wait to treat these issues. The more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to break the negative feedback loop.
One of the most significant medical developments in the past thirty years has been the emergence of antidepressant drug therapy. Antidepressants were the breakthrough intervention for the treatment of depression since the 1980s, and have been found to be efficacious for many other mental health disorders as well. Antidepressants are a cornerstone treatment element for depressive disorders, prescribed alongside psychotherapy and other interventions for best results.
Antidepressant drug therapy mitigates symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, and personality disorders. These drugs help alleviate distress by balancing chemicals in the brain called the neurotransmitters. Nearly 13% of Americans aged 12 and older are on antidepressants, based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
Among those prescribed antidepressants, the highest prevalence was among adults aged 65 and older. Regarding possible over-prescribing of antidepressants for older adults, Dr. Donovan Mause, M.D., M.S. who specializes in geriatrics at the University of Michigan states, “Many patients are given antidepressants for non-depression diagnoses, such as anxiety, sleep, and neuropathic pain.”
When a doctor decides to prescribe an antidepressant, he or she will take into consideration the benefit versus risk ratio. This simply means that the overall benefit to the wellbeing of the patient is balanced against potential side effects. For many individuals diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder, an antidepressant regimen offers significant benefits that offset the possible adverse effects. For those who find side effects intolerable, alternative treatments for treatment are then explored.
There are five categories of antidepressants. These include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are designed to modulate how serotonin is processed. These drugs increase the level of serotonin in the brain and block the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin, making more serotonin available for transmitting messages between the neurons. Drugs in this class include Prozac, Lustral, Cipramil, Faverin, and Seroxat.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A newer type of antidepressant, the SNRIs work by blocking both the norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitters. These drugs include Cymbalta, Effexor, Fetzima, and Pristiq.
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Only one drug is represented in this class, which blocks reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine, Wellbutrin.
- Tetracyclics. These are drugs that work by preventing neurotransmitters from binding with specific receptors on the nerves. These drugs include Ludiomil, Remeron, and Asendin.
- Tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclics block the reabsorption of serotonin and epinephrine into nerve cells after being released into a synapse. Tricyclics include Elavil, Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs work by blocking the effects of an enzyme called monamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. Drugs include Nardil, Marplan, Emsam, and Parnate.
While the positive effects of antidepressants are well established, the list of adverse side effects somewhat taints the reputation of these medications. Fortunately, with about thirty different antidepressants on the market a doctor can trial a patient on a few before finding the best therapeutic fit with the least amount of side effects. Each trial may last 4-6 weeks, after which the psychiatrist can adjust dosages or switch the patient to a different antidepressant if the trial is unsuccessful.
What Are the Positive Effects of Antidepressants?
When antidepressants are combined with psychotherapy and holistic treatment approaches they can help the individual struggling with a mental health disorder achieve a better quality of life. Being considered one prong of a three-pronged wellness approach, antidepressants play a big role in managing difficult symptoms which otherwise cause impairment in daily functioning.
While antidepressants can take several weeks before noticing a meaningful difference in symptoms, the accompanying interventions—therapy and holistic activities—can provide some relief in the meantime. When the antidepressant does become effective, the individual will experience a leveling out of the distressing symptoms to varying degrees, including some that achieve full remission.
Once the mental health disorder symptoms are under control, the individual will be able to be more productive and present in their jobs and their relationships. This in turn leads to improvements across the range of daily life, including career, family, physical health, and relationships.
These Mental Health Disorders May Benefit from the Positive Effects of Antidepressants
While commonly associated with an essential treatment method for depression, it is true that antidepressants are also efficacious in the treatment of a range of mental health conditions. Such disorders may call for a combination drug therapy that includes both antidepressants and another psychotropic drug, such as antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, or mood stabilizers. Antidepressants have been shown to be helpful for the following conditions:
Depression is a common mental health disorder that impacts over 17 million Americans annually. There are several sub-types of depression, including seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, postpartum depression, and bipolar depression. Major depressive disorder is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Low mood, persistent sadness, feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Change in eating habits
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of interest in daily life
- Sluggish cognitive functioning or movements
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
- Thoughts of suicide
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders in the US, with approximately 40 million adults struggling with anxiety. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobia, panic and disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Irrational worry and fear, feelings of dread
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, and has four types, including bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic, and non-specified bipolar.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Intense mood swings between mania and depression
- Impulsive behaviors
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Substance abuse
- Intense irritability
- Hyper sexuality
- Rapid speech
- Increased energy
- Suicidal ideation
There are several different personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder, not all of these will benefit from antidepressants although some definitely do.
There are several personality disorders, each with unique features and symptoms. Generally, someone with a personality disorder might experience:
- Distorted sense of self
- Antisocial behavior
- Emotional instability
- Impaired relationships
- Feelings of emptiness
- Delusional thinking
Binge Eating Disorder
Among the eating disorders, only binge eating disorder appears to benefit from the use of antidepressants. Possibly that is due to the relationship between the disorder and coexisting depressive disorder. Other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, do not seem to benefit from antidepressants.
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
- Continual eating even when full
- Stockpiling food, hiding food
- Inability to stop eating
- Gorging in isolation
- Feelings of numbness while bingeing
- Never feel sated, or satisfied after eating
- Low self-esteem
What are the Negative Effects of Antidepressants?
Now that we have covered the positive effects of antidepressants, it is helpful to also mention the limitations or negative effects of antidepressants. This is important, as antidepressants are usually effective in 50%-70% of individuals who are prescribed them for managing a mental health disorder. The balance are individuals who are diagnosed as treatment-resistant, either due to a lack of successful mitigation of symptoms or side effects that caused the individual to suspend treatment.
Antidepressant side effects might include:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
Treatment for Depression and Anxiety is a 3-Pronged Approach
- Medication. There is a wide selection of antidepressants on the market for treating depression and also for treating anxiety. Each type of antidepressant varies slightly in how they function in the brain, making certain types best for treating depression and others better for anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a behavioral approach that is very effective for treating depression or anxiety. CBT helps the patient identify irrational thoughts that leads to depressive symptoms or anxiety responses. The CBT therapist will guide patients toward developing more rational thought patterns. There are also exposure therapies for helping those with depression or anxiety that is related to a trauma.
- Holistic activities. Acknowledging the powerful mind-body connection, establishing healthy habits that promote physical wellness and help to regulate stress is essential. Incorporating regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and stress-reduction activities helps round out the treatment approach. Some activities that help reduce stress and promote calm include yoga, deep breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, guided meditation, acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy.
For patients with depression who do not respond to antidepressant drug therapy, there are some alternative approaches that may be helpful. These include brain stimulation techniques such as TMS therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation.
Antidepressants remain the centerpiece of depression treatment protocols. While these medications do not work for everybody, the positive effect of antidepressants experienced by the majority of depression patients reinforces them for essential treatment of depressive disorders. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that should be diagnosed and treated to limit impairment. Giving antidepressants a trial run is a prudent step in stemming the impact of the symptoms on one’s life.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Luxury Residential Mental Health Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale residential mental health program based in Los Angeles that features an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral Health treats a comprehensive list of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, personality disorder, mood disorder, and more, using a proven integrated 3-pronged approach including medication, psychotherapy, and holistic methods. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.
When you feel sad all the time, sleeping becomes an opportunity for relief. Depression depletes your energy anyway, only adding to the desire to lie down and drift off to sleep. When your depressive state leads to sleeping too much, this condition is called hypersomnia, or the opposite of insomnia.
Excessive sleeping is a common symptom of major depressive disorder. Escaping emotional pain through sleeping more hours than usual may be a means of self-managing the depression, or the sleeping too much may be a physiological effect of the reduction of neurotransmitters common among depression patients.
When the symptoms of depression, such as hypersomnia, are so significant that they undermine your quality of life, it is time to seek professional help. Depression is a serious mental health condition that may lead to a daily impairment that can undermine all areas of life. When excessive sleeping has impacted your career or job security, your relationships, or your overall wellbeing, proactive steps to improve psychological health are in order.
Some Basic Facts About Depressive Disorders
Depression is the second most common mental health disorder experienced by Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 17 million Americans are afflicted with this debilitating condition each year. Additionally, 2.3 million adolescents struggle with depression, further defining depression as a serious mental health threat today. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of preventable death among young people aged 10-34. These statistics underscore the importance of getting professional help for managing this serious mental health condition.
There are several different types of depression, with each type expressing unique features. Treatment for depression will be based on which particular type of depression is presenting. These types of depressive disorder include:
Major depressive disorder. MDD is the most widely diagnosed form of depression. A diagnosis of MDD results when five or more of the following symptoms are present for two weeks or longer:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, despair, or emptiness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in eating habits, weight changes
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Dysthymia. Dysthymic, or persistent depressive disorder, is a type of depression that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of mild depression symptoms for more than two years.
Postpartum depression. A woman who experiences serious symptoms of depression during and/or after giving birth has postpartum depression. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child or for herself. They may experience severe fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety in addition to the intense sadness.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. PMDD is related to a woman’s hormonal cycle, and features intensified PMS symptoms, such as angry outbursts, hopelessness, irritability, hypersomnia, excessive crying, and sensitivity to rejection.
Seasonal affective disorder. Climates further from the equator may lead to depression symptoms that are caused by a lack of sun exposure during the winter months. The individual may experience the symptoms of sleeping too much, weight gain, and isolation behaviors in addition to other depression symptoms.
Bipolar depression. This type of depressive disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The low mood episodes are classified as bipolar depression
What Causes Depression?
Depression is an extremely complex mental health disorder. Why is it that some people seem to manage serious life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, or other traumatic events, while others succumb to depression? To date, science has not yet determined the exact causes or factors related to depression, although ongoing research continues to offer new clues.
For example, a recent study out of Japan reveals the action of certain protein signaling that may affect mood. The authors, Kobayashi et.al., state, “Taken together these findings suggest that RGS8 participates in modulation of depression-like behavior through ciliary MCHR1 expressed in the CA1 region.” Some of the factors that have been also been identified as contributing to depression include:
- Genetics. A family history of depression is one of the biggest predictors of the disorder. Individuals with a close relative who suffers from depression will increase the probability for other family members.
- Brain function. The neural connections, brain cell growth, and brain chemistry are factors in mood regulation. There is some scientific evidence that chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to the onset of depression.
- Temperament. Personality traits, such as how excitable or how sensitive we are by nature can factor into depression.
- Stressful life events. People respond in their own unique way, often based on temperament, to stressful life events. Grief and loss, trauma, abuse, and many difficult life events can result in sustained and chronic depressed mood.
- Medical conditions. Some health conditions can contribute to depressions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus, stroke, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and erectile dysfunction in men. Some medications can also cause depression as a side effect of the drug.
- Substance abuse. Alcohol or drug abuse may precede the onset of depression. The negative consequences that follow a substance use disorder may overwhelm the individual and depression can develop as a result.
How Depression Impacts Daily Life
Living with depression on a day-to-day basis can have a significant impact on quality of life. In addition to the low mood and persistent feelings of sadness, depression can leave the individual feeling unwell. This combination of symptoms will often result in reduced functioning at work and at home.
Sleep disruptions, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little, will wreak havoc with concentration, energy and stamina, memory functions, appetite, and can further intensify feelings of despair. When depression causes a person to literally not want to get out of bed all day it can cause a domino effect in all other realms. Hypersomnia may even lead to excessive absences at work and declining work performance overall.
Excessive sleeping also has a negative impact on the family dynamic. When mom or dad is holed up in bed the children who are depending on the parent may not have access to the care they deserve. This places more pressure on the well parent to take up the extra burden, which can have an effect on the relationship. Eventually, the impact of depression will touch all aspects of life.
Getting Help for Depression
The fundamental treatment protocol for depression involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy:
- Psychotherapy. One-on-one talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful for helping to guide patients toward established more self-affirming thoughts that lead to positive thought/behavior patterns. Group therapy sessions, such as a depression support group, can also be beneficial to individuals being treated for depression.
- Medication. Antidepressant drug therapy is the industry standard for depression treatment. There are dozens of antidepressants on the market today. These include SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. The drugs vary in how they impact brain chemistry, and dosing adjustments or even changing to a different drug is common when trying to find the best fit for each patient.
If the severity of the depression is becoming concerning it is appropriate to seek a residential mental health program to receive the highest level of mental health support. Although most individuals struggling with depression realize it is likely a temporary condition that will eventually pass, some may begin to believe things will never change. This can cause some to consider harming themselves. A residential mental health program will offer constant support and monitoring, as well as a more intensive and individualized approach to treating depression.
Holistic Activities Complement Depression Treatment
Psychiatry has begun to embrace holistic therapies as complementary to traditional treatment modalities for depression, as these activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of calm. Some of the holistic treatment elements include:
- Yoga. Yoga involves slow, purposeful physical poses with a focus on breathing. Yoga is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress while also strengthening and stretching muscles, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture uses tiny needles to open up energy paths in the body thought to assist in the improvement of mind-body connectedness and wellness.
- Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is also helpful in training the brain to focus purposefully on the present moment, taking in the various sensory stimuli and focusing on rhythmic breathing.
- Exercise. The positive effects of getting regular exercise are caused by the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
- Aromatherapy. Certain essential oils have been found to relieve symptoms of depressed mood. These include jasmine, citrus oils, bergamot, and chamomile oils.
- Nutritional counseling. A diet rich in lean proteins, nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits, oily fish such as salmon, beans, and whole grains can significantly contribute to mental stability.
Depression is a manageable mental health disorder. When the symptoms of depression lead to impairment in daily functioning, obtaining the support of a mental health professional is essential to recovery.
Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential program that offers intensive mental health treatment for depression. When outpatient interventions have been ineffective in improving quality of life, you may benefit from a more targeted treatment protocol. With deluxe accommodations and a highly attentive clinical staff, Elevation Behavioral Health strives to make the client’s stay a comfortable and healing experience. Elevation Behavioral Health offers a full daily schedule of therapies and adjunctive activities to help individuals struggling with depression reclaim their joy and return to healthy functioning. For more information about our program please contact us today at (888) 561-0868.
It feels like a weight on your chest, depression does. That heavy feeling that zaps your energy and motivation, and stealing your quality of life. When battling depression, you struggle to find something, anything, to be grateful for, but usually find yourself saying to yourself, “I feel hopeless,” instead.
The idea of being hopeless is a total absence of the feeling that circumstances will improve with time. When in the pit of depression, it truly feels like that, as if all hope is lost. Depression is mysterious and complex, incomprehensible even. Why does it strike? What brings it on?
For individuals telling themselves daily, “I feel hopeless,” there is not always a clear path to recovery from a depressive episode. Some simply live their days out by suffering in silence, others retreat into isolation, and some begin to abuse alcohol or pills as a means of self-medicating depression. Most just wish they could snap out of it.
Knowledge is so important when it comes to understanding this mental health disorder, as it provides the key information that could give the person suffering a pathway out of the darkness of depression. Learn about the signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder, and about treatment options for managing it.
If you are struggling with depression you are in good company. More than 17 million Americans are affected by major depressive disorder annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. To date, science has not yet discovered the specific root cause of depression, however the following are known risk factors for developing the mental health disorder:
- Family history of depression
- Faulty mood regulation due to brain chemistry imbalance
- Stressful or distressing life events, such as the unexpected death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, serious health challenge
- Medical conditions, such as diabetes, MS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Medications that have depressive side effects
The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing depression involves five or more of the following symptoms have been present most of the time for more than two weeks:
- Persistent depressed or sad mood
- Deep fatigue
- Recent unexplained weight gain or loss
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Slowed movements and cognitive functioning
- Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
- Thoughts of suicide
Treatment for Depression
What may have begun as a bout of the blues becomes concerning if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks. Symptoms of depression can be very disruptive to daily functioning, impairing job performance, parenting duties, academics, and relationships. If an individual is contemplating self-harming behavior such as a suicide it constitutes an urgent condition that should be acted on immediately. If no such acute event is present, then a visit to one’s medical primary care provider is a good first step. The doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and order blood tests that will usually identify whether a medical condition is at the root of the depressive symptoms. If there is no related health problem, clinical intervention is appropriate.
Treatment of major depressive disorder follows a specific protocol involving antidepressants and psychotherapy:
Antidepressants. There are four categories of antidepressants on the market, including SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and MAOIs. With about 30 different antidepressants available, the doctor will attempt to select the one that is best aligned for the patient’s specific diagnosis. There are various types of depressive disorders and each one may correspond to a particular type of antidepressant. Generally, antidepressants take about 4 weeks to begin alleviating the depression symptoms. It is common for a patient to trial 2 or 3 drugs before finding the right fit with the least side effects.
Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is prescribed alongside the antidepressants to provide an opportunity for the patient to work through any contributing emotional or psychological issues, such as grief and loss, a history of trauma or abuse, or relationship struggles. A therapist often employs the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in depression treatment, as this type of short-term therapy can help patients reshape their thought patterns toward more positive self-talk.
Holistic therapies. Complementary therapies can enhance the effects of the traditional therapies by helping the individual achieve a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind. Psychiatry has begun to add holistic therapies to the treatment plan, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage, gardening therapy, equine therapy, and art therapy.
Brain stimulation technology. Antidepressants are effective in up to 70% of depression patients, leaving a significant number of individuals in need of an alternative treatment route. One of the most promising alternative depression treatments is TMS therapy, a brain stimulation technology that helps normalize brain chemistry in the limbic region. TMS is usually prescribed for a 4-6 week period. TMS therapy is considered safe, with few side effects.
When a Higher Level of Care should be Considered
If chronic feelings of hopelessness are becoming concerning it is appropriate to seek a residential mental health program. Although feelings of despair are just temporary and will eventually pass, sometimes in the thick of if it may seem as if things will never change. This can cause some to consider harming themselves.
When this is the case, it is important to receive the highest level of mental health oversight. A residential mental health program will offer constant support and monitoring, as well as a more targeted approach to treating depression. The length of stay in a residential program is determined by the severity of the condition and whether there is a co-occurring substance use disorder. The residential setting provides a safe place to detach from daily life and focus all attention on getting well.
The residential rehab for depression treatment program will include a review of and adjustment of medications, intensive psychotherapy, and holistic activities. Treatment plans are individualized based on a careful intake process that includes psychological assessments, interviewing the individual, and reviewing mental health and medical history.
Moving Beyond Black or White Thinking
The mind is very powerful, with the potential to make substantive changes in our mental outlook and attitude. Negative, self-defeating thought patterns can keep us stuck in a hopeless place. Hopelessness involves thought patterns that are disordered. The individual suffering from depression might see their circumstances through a black or white lens; that nothing will ever improve if it hasn’t yet. These are the if-then thoughts—“If I don’t get that job then I will lose my home”—that limit our potential and trap us. These polarizing types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies, almost as if you are talking yourself into that dark corner of hopelessness.
In depression recovery it is important to soften the hard lines of these kinds of thoughts. Look for the gray area, or create it. Instead of thinking, “I feel hopeless,” why not shift that negative self-talk to something more constructive such as, “I might have felt hopeless lately, but I know that things will change eventually.” This small adjustment offers the reintroduction of the concept of hope, and hope is what gets us out of bed each morning. Instead of replaying that false narrative in your mind, the self-limiting story that you have convinced yourself is real, why not challenge that narrative? Break it down, analyze it, and then rewrite your story.
Be Kind to Yourself
Another aspect of depression recovery involves self-care. Depression can take a heavy toll on a person. Lack of sleep, fatigue, and unhealthy eating habits can leave us feeling depleted both physically and mentally. While in recovery, it is important to restore wellness by taking time to care for ourselves.
Getting daily exercise offers significant benefits to overall wellness. Physical activity produces the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which can lead to elevated mood. Exercise also increases the production of certain neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, all which help regulate stress and improve mental wellbeing.
Another important aspect of self-care is getting quality sleep. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is key to regulating the circadian cycle for a quality night’s sleep. Always aim for a minimum of 7 hours, with 8 hours being optimal. To help achieve quality sleep, practice additional self-care activities such as taking a warm bath before bedtime, using lavender essential oil aromatherapy, and avoiding heavy meals and caffeine late in the day.
Indulge yourself occasionally with a therapeutic massage. Massage can help detoxify the body and lymphatic system while reducing muscle tension and stress. In addition, massage provides human touch and a sense of connection and comfort.
Feelings of hopelessness are transient, if we allow them to be. Instead of fixating on self-defeating thoughts, be kind to yourself and seek affirmations, comfort, and hope through the aid of holistic depression treatment.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Integrated Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles County. Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate setting for individuals in need of a peaceful place to heal from depression. This mental health and wellness program for depression is based upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to that are holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, to offer a fully integrated approach for treating depression. If you find yourself stating, “I feel hopeless,” it is time to see the support compassionate therapists who can guide you toward wellness. For more information, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.
I’m fine, how are you?”
This reflexive response to the routine “How are you” question is many times a bold-faced lie. How much easier it seems in the moment to just lie about how we really are rather than deal with our own personal reality. We want to appear normal and happy as we walk through our days, hoping to just blend in and get our obligations checked off the list. Parenting…check. Work…check. Lunch with friend…check. Dinner with family…check. Day in and day out we resolutely put on a false front to detract from the bleak, gray mood that sits right beneath the surface.
Living with depression is incredibly exhausting, and trying to fake our way through the days only adds to the exhaustion. Ignoring the huge elephant in the room eventually takes its toll, however. No one can continuously suppress feelings of hopelessness and despair forever. Eventually, the piper must be paid.
Suicide rates are steadily rising across age groups and demographics. How many of those lives might have been saved had they been more open about their suffering? How many would have gotten help in their darkest hour? Sometimes just asking for someone to sit with you is all the help you might need in the moment, but too often loved ones are unaware of how dire the situation is because the person hesitated to reach out.
Knowing how to ask for help with depression is a learned skill. It requires a leap of faith, as the risk of appearing weak or damaged or crazy is very real. But taking that leap is necessary if we are to ever reclaim our quality of life and our ability to function at an optimal level. Learning how to ask for help with depression is, therefore, absolutely necessary to achieve a restoration of mental wellness and to once again experience joy.
10 Tips How to Ask for Help With Depression
The stigma surrounding mental health issues is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome when in need of help. To remove that barrier takes guts. Here are some helpful tips to help do exactly that, although they usually require vulnerability. Many will learn that exercising these suggestions can open doors and open hearts.
- Practice saying the words aloud in front of your mirror, while on a walk, or while driving: I don’t feel well. I am scared. I need to talk to someone. Just uttering these short phrases out loud can prepare you for actually communicating them with a friend or loved one. Practice them until they roll off the tongue.
- Don’t buy into the stigma. Resist believing that you are somehow flawed because you are experiencing depression. Understand that mental health is just one aspect of the human system, and is at least as important as our physical health. Acquire a new attitude about the importance of paying attention to mental wellness.
- Acknowledge when you are not coping well. The signs may be popping up at work where your productivity has been impacted or your low mood has coworkers worried about you. It could be showing up at home, where your ability to care for the kids or even make a meal is hindered by the depression.
- Ask someone for a referral. The idea of scouring pages and pages of mental health providers in your network may be simply overwhelming. Ask a trusted friend for the name of a therapist that they liked, or ask your primary care physician to recommend you to a psychiatrist that they refer their patients to.
- Once you find a mental health provider you may be afraid to take that first step. If you resist making the phone call and setting up a consultation, ask a spouse, family member, or trusted friend to sit with you while you make the call. Sometimes you just need some physical support to follow through.
- Ask a friend to come over. Even if you are not yet ready to take the next step and get help, having someone in your court is essential. A trusted friend who you feel comfortable sharing with can provide the opening to revealing what is really going on with you. Just invite the friend for a visit and be willing to be real with them.
- Get informed. If you suspect you are suffering from clinical depression it can be very helpful to get educated about the diagnostic criteria for this mental health challenge. Go online and read up on the signs of depression and the treatment options. Knowledge is power. Once you recognize yourself in the description of depressive disorder it may be easier to reach out to a doctor.
- Know your own limits. We may try to tough out the difficult chapters in life on our own. Many are resistant to asking for help, thinking it is a sign of weakness. But acknowledging the signs of distress—impairment in daily functioning, ignoring hygiene, excessive absences from work, and sleep disturbance—is a call to action. Be aware of your inability to cope and get help.
- Join a support group. Maybe you are already being treated for depression and it appears to be escalating. Your mental health provider can refer you to a support group where individuals come together to discuss their challenges with depression and offer mutual support. These participants will recognize your need for a more intensive treatment protocol or even hospitalization if you are suicidal.
- Write a letter. Sometimes verbally describing the illness is too daunting. The thought of sitting in front of someone and sharing about the dark aspects of depression can be simply impossible. Try expressing your pain in a letter or email to a trusted friend or family member. Writing can allow for more openness than face-to-face conversation, especially regarding something so sensitive and personal.
The DSM-5 has listed specific symptoms related to depressive disorder, and stipulates that a cluster of 5 or more symptoms persist most of the time for more than two weeks to receive the diagnosis. These include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair
- Loss of interest in pleasure or activities once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Slowed cognitive and motor functions
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia or hypersomnia
- Unable to concentrate or make decisions
- Suicidal ideation
The psychiatrist may use screening tools to help in diagnosing the depression, such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). A physical exam can help rule out a medical condition or medications as the cause of the depression symptoms. Such health conditions might include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Different Types of Depression
There are different forms of depression within the depression spectrum, each with unique features, including:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (see above symptoms)
- Dysthymia (Persistent Depression Disorder). This is a type of MDD that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of milder depression, but no relief of the depressive symptoms for two years or more.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. A severe form of PMS that features extreme mood swings, sadness, irritability, and anger.
- Psychotic Depression. This involves MDD with psychotic features. The individual may experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations in addition to the symptoms of depression. There may be a theme for the illness, such as revolving around a serious illness or poverty, for example.
- Postpartum Depression. Some women experience serious symptoms of MDD during and/or after giving birth. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child, or themselves, and often experience severe fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety in addition to the profound sadness.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In certain climates individuals may experience symptoms of MDD that are caused by a lack of sun exposure during the winter months, which can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. The individual may experience weight gain, hypersomnia, and isolation behaviors in addition to the symptoms of depression.
- Bipolar Disorder. This disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The low mood episodes can last days or weeks.
Comprehensive Depression Treatment
When someone experiences feeling lost and depressed to the point that his or her daily functioning is impaired, it is essential that they learn how to ask for help with depression. Depression is highly treatable and should never be ignored. Attempting to ride out the depression may lead to their symptoms worsening, reducing their quality of life, and even risking suicide.
Depression treatment focuses on modulating brain chemistry through the use of antidepressants, and learning new thought/behavior patterns through the interventions of a psychotherapist. Complementary activities round out the treatment protocol:
- Medication. There are about 30 antidepressants on the market for treating depression, each varying slightly in how they function in the brain. Often, there is a need to trial a few different drugs before the best fit is determined.
- Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy modalities are selected based on the specific issues underlying the depression. Psychodynamic therapy is a longer-term approach that delves into childhood issues that might be factors in the depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help the patient identify irrational thinking that leads to depressive symptoms. There are also exposure therapies for helping those with depression is related to a trauma.
- Holistic. Incorporating regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress reduction activities, such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, can enhance the clinical results.
Elevation Behavioral Health Leading Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles
Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program featuring an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral treats all forms of mental health disorders, including all types of depression, using a proven integrated approach. If you are struggling with depression, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.