Common questions about Depression answered

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about depression and clients struggle to understand it and implications of it. I thought just creating this blog entry to include a Q/A format might be helpful to review what are some common questions and answers. Check it out below!


How do I know if I am depressed?


Depression is not always a “sad” or “down” feeling. Depression can sometimes appear as a “blah” or “numb” feeling. I find the most common symptoms are loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy. For example if you loved to watch Football and suddenly have no desire to it anymore that could be a sign of depression. I also find lack of motivation to be another common symptom. Many who are depressed struggle to get general household chores done or keep procrastinating. Sometimes hygiene takes a hit and its harder to get yourself to take regular showers. Other people may have a general apathy and not care about anything anymore or struggle to make decisions. Here is a more exhaustive list of symptoms to check out https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007.


I am able to hold down a full time job and manage most of my life. I’m not struggling with getting out of bed in the morning but still feel down most days. Could this be depression?


Remember depression can be on a continuum. At the low end is more adjustment depression where you might experience a loss or be going through a difficult time due to life circumstances. These generally pass after a certain amount of time. At the more extreme end is someone who is highly suicidal, can’t take care of themselves or get out of bed and needs to be hospitalized. Then there are the more moderate kinds of depression. The symptoms are still real though regardless if they are mild or not. It can be more of a “functional” depression, meaning you have symptoms but you are able to carry on with your regular activities of daily life.


What is a treatment for depression?


The most effective way is to work on breaking the depression cycle. The cycle occurs when you have negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” you start withdrawing, stop doing fun things and you no longer get the positive hits in your brain, you feel more tired, you become isolated and this leads to more depression and continuation of the cycle.


To break this you must engage in whats called Behavior Activation. This involves a slow but steady change in behaviors that include activities of accomplishment, engaging social supports, body care (eating/exercise/bathing) and things that bring you joy. Accomplishment activities can include completing a chore, getting a project done for work or paying a bill. Small steps do count!


I often have clients keep a chart and write in what Behavior Activation they are willing to do each day. I have them start small with just one goal in one category and then gradually build that up. It can take some time to build those positive feelings but over time and consistency it will happen. I’ve found people prone to depression need to engage in these activities more often than those who don’t’ have depression since any burst of positive emotion will tend to last for a shorter period of time.


Still have questions about depression and feel like you need to reach out for help? We at Path to Hope counseling can help! We offer a free 20 minute consultation to see if we are a good fit, reach out toady at pathtohopec@hushmail.com.