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What You Need to Know about Depression

It may go against your nature, but sometimes you need to be selfish. Your mental health is of the utmost importance. If you’re not taking care of yourself you will struggle to do much of anything else in life. That’s why October has been named National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. It’s time to be selfish for a moment and check in on yourself.

When you’re going through a tough time it’s normal to feel down for a while, emotions like sadness and grief help make us human. But if you’re feeling sad or miserable most of the time over a long period of time, you might have depression.

Depression is a mental illness that has a significant effect on a person’s ability to function normally and is marked by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. Believe it or not, it’s also one of the most common conditions in the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 1 in 4 adults suffer from some type of diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.


How would we know if someone we care about might be depressed?

Depression has some common presentations that we look for when evaluating people. Risk factors include a combination of a person’s age, biological and psychological makeup, family history of depression, and major life events.

  1. The common signs of depression include sadness, isolation, negative thinking, and/or a change in sleeping and eating habits.
  2. Other less thought of signs are irritability, guilt, talking or moving slower, or restlessness.
  3. We also attend to reports of physical symptoms, like aches and pains, headaches or cramps, and unexplainable digestive concerns.
  4. Although depression most often starts in adulthood, depression can present in children as anxiousness or irritability.

Is there anything we can do to help?

Absolutely. Because isolation is commonly seen, our help is great medicine.

  1. We can be a good friend by openly listening, inviting them for walks, and helping them identify realistic goals.
  2. We can gently remind them that recovery is about gradual and intentional actions.
  3. We can encourage them to delay any quick-fix solutions, especially if they are life-altering like changing jobs, getting pregnant, or moving.
  4. It is important to encourage them to meet with their PCP and seek professional help. You could even offer to go with them for support.

Most importantly, always address concerns about harm and suicide. If our friend says anything that sounds worrisome, you can drive them to the emergency room, or call their physician or mental health provider immediately.

What does treatment look like?

Research has been done on depression for many years since 1 in 4 people are diagnosed with some type of depression disorder each year. The National Institute of Mental Health has identified three research-based treatments.

  1. It is important that we start with an appointment with our PCP to address possible physiological causes (e.g., thyroid problems), discuss treatment options, and get assistance with locating qualified providers.
  2. When it is determined that depression is likely, then medication along with psychotherapy is next. Both look differently for different people based on their risk factors. Physicians determine if and which medications best fit each individual just as mental health therapists decide on the right therapy approach.

How do we know which type of therapy approach is right?

We have three research-based options.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a good fit for people who have experienced trauma or recent stress.
  2. Problem-solving therapies, like Solution-focused therapy, works well when we need to address a poorly made decision or we are stressed or anxious about a current situation.
  3. At Maison Vie, we are specifically trained in various types of Interpersonal therapy, which is a good fit when we are having problems in our relationships or our family.

Think you might be depressed?

Take this brief, eight-question quiz to help figure out whether you’re showing any of the warning signs of depression. This won’t give you a diagnosis but it will help you decide the next step – Depression Awareness Quiz.

More information about Depression:

Depression + COVIDDepression Awareness Month | Depression Overview
Postpartum Depression | Depression in Adolescence |