Depression- Symptoms and Treatment

Feelings of depression are often brought on by big changes and life adjustments such as loss of a job, financial worries, medical issues, grief and loss, or family conflict.  However, these feelings of sadness can also simply be caused by lack of sleep, the darkness of winter, extra stress at work, or disagreements with a loved one. Everyone can feel depressed at times. However, the depression usually does not affect one’s ability to function.

Clinical Depression is more than just feeling sad or down for a short period of time.  It is a serious medical illness that completely disrupts a person’s life to the point that they may take their own life to escape the way that they feel.  It may stem from childhood trauma, genetics, brain structure, medical conditions, drug and alcohol use and/or life circumstances.

Women more frequently suffer from Clinical Depression than men, however men are more likely to take their own lives. Teen Clinical Depression is not uncommon.  Studies show 11% percent of teens will suffer from Clinical Depression.  Suicide attempts are much more common in depressed adolescents than in adults.

Clinical Depression is also significantly more common in states with higher altitudes like Utah. Studies show that it may be high altitude and lower oxygen that disrupt our brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine– chemicals in the brain that regulate our sense of happiness. Seasonal depressive episodes are also much more common in winter months due to the change in the amount of light we receive.

Symptoms of Depression include:

  • A sense of hopelessness – the feeling that nothing good will even happen again
  • A profound sense of fatigue and loss of energy – everything feels like too much of an effort
  • Physical aches and pains along with slowed movement and speech
  • Low self-esteem–people dwell on every loss or failure and engage in a constant litany of negative self-talk
  • Lack of interest in all activities and inability to experience joy in past hobbies
  • Inability to concentrate to the point that reading or following a plot on TV is impossible.
  • Changes in sleep and eating habits.
  • “Flat affect”—this is a term used to describe the emotional blunting or inability to express any feelings either verbally or non-verbally that are commonly seen in depressed individuals.  There is no show of sadness, anger, excitement, or affection. This can be very difficult for family and friends who are attempting to provide support.

Treatment for Depression often involves the use of anti-depressants that act on neurotransmitters in the brain to increase serotonin and dopamine. There are many antidepressants available that work in slightly different ways, so choosing the right one is important. At Ascendant Behavioral Health Clinics we have Board-Certified Psychiatrists and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses that work with clients needing medication in conjunction with mental health therapists that provide necessary psychotherapy.

Antidepressant medications treat common symptoms of depression, rather than the condition itself.  The cycle of depressive thinking styles, negative rumination, and feelings of hopelessness need to be broken.  Good psychotherapy will break this cycle as quickly as possible, giving the person new skills to ensure they stay emotionally healthy and able to cope.  The most effective treatment for Depression includes Dialectical Behavorial Therapy.

Ascendant’s Clinical Director Susan Mitchell hass written several article on Depression; Teen Depression: “Just Snap Out of It!” Is Nor the Answer and Winter Blues Hit Hard in January- Are You Sad?.

If you, a family member or a friend are suffering, there is help.  Ascendant Behavioral Health Clinics has many therapists that specialize in treating Depression. To find a therapist, go to Our Staff or call (801) 872-5516.