Depression Help

Understanding Depression

Depressive disorder, frequently referred to simply as depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough time. It is a serious mental health condition that often requires understanding and possibly medical care. Some will experience a single episode of depression, some experience episodes of depression and manic type behavior which may indicate Bipolar I or Bipolar II. Substance use, life circumstances may contribute to the suffering. It is extremely important to get help. Without treatment and understanding depressive episodes may last a few months to a few years. 

An estimated 16 million American adults – that’s almost 7% of the population – have had at least one major depressive episode during the past year. People of all ages and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others. 

How I Can Help You

Although a depressive disorder can be overwhelming, I can help you. I have extensive experience working with individuals with anxiety and depression. The key is to get an evaluation and treatment plan. This is often the combination of appropriate medical assessment and psychotherapy. A medical doctor or psychiatrist prescribes medications, if indicated. Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications need to be prescribed by a medical doctor and/psychiatrist. 

As your psychotherapist, I will work closely with you and your doctor to create a coordinated care plan. These are some of the areas we will explore:

Psychotherapy which may include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and interpersonal therapy. We can work together to create a specialized therapeutic plan that will benefit you. 

Lifestyle changes including positive social interaction, proper eating and appropriate amounts of sleep can all help depression. Physical exercise on a daily basis is very effective with depression. Even daily walking can be beneficial. 

Building life skills to help you navigate your life more effectively can help with depression. DBT is designed to help people build skills in some fundamental areas of life such as understanding and self-regulating emotions, interpersonal relationship skills, building healthy coping or crisis skills and the use of core mindfulness. 

Common Symptoms of Depression:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression does not have a single cause. It can be triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or something else. It can also occur spontaneously. Scientists believe several factors can contribute to depression: 

Trauma: When people experience trauma at an early age, it can cause long-term changes in how their brains respond to stress and fear. These changes may lead to depression.

Genetics: Mood disorders, such as depression, tend to run in families.

Life circumstances: Marital status, relationship changes, financial standing and where a person lives influence whether a person develops depression. Grief and loss can contribute to depression.

Brain changes: Imaging studies have shown that the frontal lobe of the brain becomes less active when a person is depressed. Depression can be also associated with changes in how the pituitary gland and hypothalamus respond to hormone stimulation.

Other medical conditions: Sleep disturbances, medical illnesses such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune conditions, cancer, chronic pain, anxiety can all contribute to depression.

Drug and alcohol use: Approximately 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have depression. It is important to have coordinated treatment for both conditions, as alcohol can worsen symptoms.

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Please note – If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call 911, contact the nearest emergency facility (Cottage ER in Santa Barbara) or call the suicide prevention hotline at (800) 273 – 8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.


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