Trauma-related Depression

depressionAm I depressed?

Depression is more than feeling sad. It’s more than being “down” or having a bad day. Depression can sometimes come out of the blue, but it can also follow significant events in someone life, such as a divorce or a traumatic experience. Let’s talk about some of the typical symptoms of depression.

The main symptom of depression is feeling sad, empty or hopeless most of the day, nearly every day for at least a couple of weeks. If you don’t necessarily feel this, but friends or relatives come up to you saying you look this way, take note! Most folks don’t know that children or adolescents who are depressed sometimes don’t feel sad or down–irritability can also indicate depression.

A significant loss of interest or enjoyment in most activities that you used to enjoy is another hallmark of depression. Again, this is not just a “down day” but tends to be present most of the day, most days of the week.

Appetite and sleep are typically affected. If you’ve lost significant weight without dieting, or don’t have much of an appetite, this is a symptom. Some folks have an increase in appetite, but instead of eating healthy they eat lots of sugary or salty foods. Not sleeping well for at least a couple of weeks, either because you don’t get much sleep or because you start sleeping 12 or more hours a day is a typical sign of depression as well.

Here are some other signs of depression:

  • Not having energy or motivation
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Feeling worthless or having excessive guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative/pessimistic thinking
  • Diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

What do I do if I suspect I am depressed?

First go and see your doctor. Many depressive symptoms can be caused by physical conditions, and can be remedied by addressing them. Symptoms of depression can be mimicked by thyroid problems, sleep apnea, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, or simply having the flu. Your physician can determine if any of these or other conditions are present. Always rule out physical causes first!

How do I know if I’m depressed enough for counseling?

This is a question a lot of folks have. Here’s how to tell:  the main question to ask yourself is, “do my symptoms significantly interfere with the quality of my life?” If they don’t, you may not need to enter counseling. If, however, your symptoms cause you a lot of stress, if they impair your ability to do your work or your relationships with other people, or if they flat out make you miserable and you don’t know how to get better, then it may be time to look into counseling.

What does depression treatment with Jason look like?

As a trauma specialist, I primarily work with those who have depression due to their underlying traumatic experiences. This is important because depression is the #1 comorbid condition of PTSD. Please know depression is very treatable! Depression has been around for a long time, and there are about as many ways to treat it as you can shake a stick at. This is a good thing, because no two people are alike and there is no “one size fits all” for treatment.

Typically resolving the underlying trauma will resolve the depression, which is why EMDR is so effective, and that will likely be part of your treatment. There is some overlap for PTSD and depression. For example, with both depression and PTSD you may have trouble sleeping or keeping your mind focused. You may not feel pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy. You may not want to be with other people as much. Both PTSD and depression may involve greater irritability. I will teach you how to take control of your sleep, your eating, your physical activity and other things foundational to good mental health. Recognizing and taking control of your thoughts is essential as well, and I will guide you through this as well. I have some free questionnaires on my Forms page that will help you gauge the severity of your depressive symptoms and detect the presence of trauma affecting your life.

What about antidepressants?

As a clinical social worker I don’t prescribe medications. Antidepressants can be very helpful for alleviating some symptoms of depression, and can be used with counseling. I highly recommend them for those with severe depression (if you are having suicidal thoughts or just can’t seem to get out of bed). I tell my clients that one of the main benefits of antidepressants is that they help you function at a level that will let you get the most out of therapy, and when therapy is done you won’t need antidepressants anymore.

If I want counseling with Jason, what’s my next step?

Hopefully you have gotten the message to see your primary doctor for a differential diagnosis, but counseling and/or medications can be very helpful. I offer counseling services for PTSD and trauma-related depression here in the Tri-Cities area. Please write me or give me a call. Click here to be taken to a form to contact me via email, or call my office directly at 509-531-6698. It’s tempting to put things off when you’re depressed. Do something today to help yourself take your life back, you deserve it!

me - 2017



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