Are you Depressed?
- Do you find it difficult to get out of bed?
- Does your life feel like a constant struggle?
- Are you finding it hard to care about your job, your hobbies, or even your relationships with others?
Depression can affect your relationships with loved ones, coworkers, friends, and family. It can make it difficult to concentrate, leading to reduced productivity at work or in the home. You might feel like you have little reason to live and wish you were dead. You hit the snooze 5 times in the morning before you can finally drag your leaden body out of the bed. Everything is an effort, with no real reward for making that effort. You no longer find any fulfillment in your work, you notice that your friends are no longer inviting you out with them, and it feels like everyone is criticizing everything you do. Even if others are kind to you, they annoy you. Everything your partner does gets on your nerves. The activities that used to be fun can no longer pique your interest. You find yourself sitting in front of the tv or your tablet for hours on end, but nothing helps. Even sex has lost it's lustre.
Depression shows up in every part of life. It affects sleep, appetite, concentration, self-identity, confidence, relationships with friends and family, and work. If it isn't addressed and treated, it can lead to serious health problems, loss of jobs and relationships, and even suicide. When suicide begins to feel like the best option, remember that your life cannot get better if you are dead. In order to have a happy life, you have to be alive. I know it feels like a happy life is no longer possible, but give me the benefit of the doubt when I say that I have seen it improve in every single person I have worked with, over the course of almost 20 years as a therapist.
Depression is the most common mental health disorder in North America
In 2014, at least 15.7 million American adults experienced a major depressive episode (www.nimh.nih.gov). Common contributors to depression include biology, a dramatic change in life, and a loss or lack of support and resources. Depression is a mood disorder; it has a genetic component, which means that it tends to run in families. For example, if your aunt was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (another mood disorder), your chances of experiencing Depression are higher than your friend, who does not have any family members with mood disorders. Even with the genetic loading, you might not have experienced it before if your life was stable and comfortable. If you were never taught how to cope with change, you might find that it sends you spiralling into depression. Change can be difficult. Depression is very common in university students leaving home for the first time, in new parents, in "empty nesters" whose children have grown, and in newly retired people. If you experience something like a divorce or a change in careers, you might also be vulnerable to Depression. Adjusting to a new situation can lead to uncertainty about your abilities and identity, which can make it difficult to "keep your chin up." If you have suffered the loss of a job, a relationship, your health, a child, or a dream, you might find yourself wondering why you should bother going on with your life. Depression can easily set in when you experience these losses, especially if you do not have sufficient support.
Although nearly twice as many women as men experience depression, they are also more likely to receive treatment. Men are often taught not to cry or express sadness, which decreases their likelihood of seeking help. This could contribute to the tendency for men to experience depressive symptoms such as irritability, anger outbursts, and loss of interest in activities. Women are more likely to experience the "classic" symptoms, including feeling down or blue. Whether you are a man or a woman, your particular experience of depression will be unique to you. Though the symptoms are common and many people experience depression, every person has a unique blueprint. You have strengths that can help you get through even the deepest depression. Depression might be the most common mental health disorder, but it is also one of the most treatable.
Help for Depression
Depression treatment is well-researched, with many types of treament available. I am trained in two of the most effective forms, called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). Both of these treatments include understanding how your thoughts and actions affect your mood. When you come in for depression therapy, we will start by looking at how your thoughts and actions affect your emotions. We will take into account the skills you already have and how effective they are. In our sessions, I will teach you how to respond to situations in your life so that you are more effective in getting what you want and improving anything you do that is not working for you. We will practice skills in session, then you will be given specific, simple homework to practice on your own. The homework is tailored specifically to you so that it becomes a part of your daily life. If you are having difficulty following through, which is common with Depression, we will work together to figure out how to get past the blocks and use your natural strengths to overcome them. I will be your support, your coach, and your teacher in this process as you learn and practice skills that you can incorporate into your life. The beauty of this kind of treatment for depression is that you gain skills that you can use for the rest of your life, long after you complete your therapy.
I start every session with mindful meditation. This trains you to find your calm, wise inner voice and helps you focus on the work. It is difficult to concentrate when you are depressed. Mindfulness practice helps you choose where to put your focus and keep it there. Mindfulness practice is useful for many things beyond the immediate benefits of focus, however: It can help with Acceptance. Acceptance is a powerful tool that helps you recognize that the world is as it is, without the expectation that it will change for you. Acceptance is not the same as agreement. Accepting something does not mean that you agree with it, but it does mean that you can decide how you wish to proceed. For example, if you refuse to accept that it is raining, you will not be prepared when you leave the house and you will get wet. If you accept that it is raining (knowing that you would prefer sun), you can choose whether you cover up -and stay dry- or get wet. Mindfulness also gives you a few moments at a time to focus on yourself, begin to recognize your own worth, and take care of yourself. You might not believe that you are worth caring for. That is the depression talking and it does not serve you well. Self-care is one of the important skills I emphasize in my work with you and mindfulness practice increases your ability to see your own worth.
We discuss current events in your life and use them as opportunities to change the thoughts and actions that are keeping you depressed. We analyze the skills that are helping you and fine-tune them to increase their effectiveness. For example, if your boss was hanging over your shoulder while you were working and you were so irritated that you made a sarcastic remark that got you in trouble, we might look at the thoughts you had that led to that comment. Then, we might come up with actions you could take to improve your situation without causing problems with the boss. We might also look at how to change your perceptions and thoughts to decrease your irritability. Maybe you tried to distract yourself from the irritation (a helpful skill), but were not able to keep it up. We would then explore how you might be able to keep up the use of distraction, or introduce a different distraction, in future interactions. Interactions with others are golden opportunities to recognize what needs to change and to practice new skills.
Why should you call me?
I am a Wholistic Therapist. My style is best described as compassionate, balanced action. Understanding why your life is as it is helps to satisfy the mind, but it does not create lasting change because it addresses only the mind and partially satisfies the heart. In order to make lasting change, you must engage the body and develop actions that fit with your new understanding. Finally, engaging your spirit strengthens your conviction and gives you the additional support you need to follow through. When I talk about the spiritual aspect, be aware that I am not talking about religion. Each person has a unique experience of spirit, including atheists who do not believe in a spiritual world, but find great comfort in the natural world. I find that many atheists, for example, can ease their depressive symptoms by spending time out in the mountains, the forest, the desert, or other rural settings. However you experience it, it can help you cope with depression.
My clients tell me that they feel safe with me. This opens up communication so that we can work with even the most difficult, private issues as they arise. When you need a listening, caring ear, I am here. A good therapist will do more than listen, however, once you have expressed yourself. I will ask questions that lead you to deeper understanding, then push you to act on your insights so that your own actions prove to you that you are more capable and stronger than you ever imagined. My purpose is to support you and guide you through the process of beating depression- and coming out the other side a stronger, more confident version of yourself!
With my guidance, you can discover your own power and take action to live your life fully and mindfully, with Purpose. You will learn how to overcome depression and make the decisions that grow you in the direction you choose.
I grew up in a family full of depression. It has been a fact of life for me that people get depressed and that they cannot be expected to function well when dealing with those demons. The possibility of losing a loved one to suicide has always hung at the back of my mind and I know that I lost my grandmother to a very slow suicide from drinking and smoking and not taking care of herself properly. I have experienced major depressive episodes myself- and come through them successfully. They suck, but they also lead to a deeper understanding of life that someone without depression cannot hope to understand. Carl Jung, as well as others, wrote about it as the Shadow. Knowing the Shadow on an intimate level, which happens with depression, leads to a fuller, deeper appreciation of life, once you come out the other side. Surviving it proves to you that you are stronger than you ever imagined. It is not an easy or pleasant journey, but it can be productive.
My formal psychological training began in 1997, when I started graduate school. In the course of my training and in the intervening years, I have helped many people feel better and learn to cope with depression. Because I have experienced it myself and seen what it looks like in others on a daily basis, I have a unique understanding. I will not tell you to "get over it" or just "fake it until you make it and paste a smile on your face." Not only do I know how patronizing that feels, but I also know that it is not effective. I know how hard it can be to practice the skills I teach because I have learned and practiced them myself. Everything I ask of my clients I have either learned for myself, or I am in process of learning. We are in this together.
Therapy is too expensive.
Depression makes it harder to succeed in life, and that includes work and making money. When you take the time and spend the money to take care of yourself, everything in your life prospers, often including finances. As you develop your sense of self-worth, you find yourself spending less time and money on things that harm you (like junk food or alcohol and cigarettes) and asking for more from people who want your time and effort (pay raise, anyone?). When you put it into perspective, therapy is not as expensive as ignoring your own needs.
Sometimes, the reality is that your finances simply will not allow for regular, long-term therapy. That's okay because you have options.
- Health insurance often covers at least some of the cost. You simply pay me, then submit the receipts I give you for reimbursement from your insurance company.
- Free! 20-minute consultation. It is important that you find a therapist that fits you, but it can get expensive to pay full price to meet someone while you are shopping for the right therapist. I will gladly meet with you for a free 20 minute consultation so you can get an idea of how I work before paying anything.
- If we work together for a few sessions and you find it is helping, but cannot afford to continue paying the full fee, let me know and we can work together to find a solution that works for both of us.
- Therapy does not have to be a long-term committment. People often feel better after a few sessions. You might not make as many long-lasting changes, but you can still get some valuable ideas and skills that you can practice on your own.
- You can choose less frequent sessions. This usually means slower progress, but it can still be effective- and easier on your pocketbook.
- If you would like to pay for 10 sessions up front, I can give you a discount. Please note that your insurance will likely still want receipts for each session. They don't like paying a lump sum for a service that has not been utilized, yet.
How can I be sure that it will work?
Research finds that almost all clients feel better after 3-4 sessions. Long-lasting and solid change requires more time, based on these two factors:
- The fit between client and therapist. This is the #1 most important factor in therapy effectiveness. I offer a free 20 minute consultation in order to help you get a sense of how well we would fit. I recommend that you contact at least 3-4 different therapists in order to determine the best one for you.
- You must be prepared to do the work. If you are not willing to change your perceptions and do things differently, then nothing in your life will change. The best therapist in the world cannot fix your life without your efforts. I offer specfic suggestions and options to guide you in the actions you need to take in order to make lasting change. If are too far down and have no energy to make the effort, you might try medication. Your doctor can prescribe something or you can get a referral to a psychiatrist for an antidepressant. Once the medication takes effect (usually at least 2-4 weeks), you will likely find that you have more energy to focus on learning these lifelong skills.
I'm not crazy
You don't have to have a diagnosis in order to benefit from therapy. Everyone has times in their lives when they can use some extra guidance. Even if you do not fit the full criteria for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, the symptoms can feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to go through it alone and friends can only do so much to help. At these times, it helps to have an expert on your team.
Sometimes, life makes you feel crazy, even if you are still functioning. You might find that it's getting more difficult to enjoy your life the way you want to, even though you are managing to survive. The question is, do you really want to live your life just getting by? Depression treatment can help you find your purpose, so that you can thrive in a life full of Joy.
It's your life. Are you ready to love it?