In my Malibu offices I see many adults suffering from depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues, however, that does not mean that they are to be taken lightly. Even if a full criteria for depression is not met, for example, just experiencing a depressed mood frequently or a diminished interest in activities, it can have severe and detrimental effects on a person's life. Attending regular psychotherapy can be helpful for depression and is sometimes enough for a person to improve and cope; however, at times other treatment is needed. An appointment with a psychiatrist who may prescribe medications such as antidepressants, a physical scheduled with an MD to rule out underlying medical issues such as hypothyroidism (commonly misdiagnosed as depression), yoga and meditation, lifestyle changes, and getting moderate physical activity are all initial steps that can be taken to help find your way out of depression. What I hear most in my office from people with depression is that they feel that they've lost their former selves and they fear they'll never find that person again. Over time, living with depression or even with some of the traits of depression can weaken you, cause you to isolate, feel powerless, and alien to yourself, and although you can't go back in time and change the past, you can learn to move forward and find new ways to cope with life in the present.
During the turn of the century, Sigmund Freud theorized that depression resulted from exaggerated expressions of guilt and self-blame. Today, modern research seems to concur with his concept. The criteria for depression consists of 5 or more of the symptoms listed below, which cause social, occupational, and/or functional impairments in a person's life.
1. A depressed mood most of the day, every day. Depressed mood may be determined by self report of feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, or sadness, or it can be observed by others as tearfulness, pessimism, and *irritability in children
2. Diminished interest or pleasure taken in most activities
3. Significant weight loss or gain. A change in appetite
4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
5. Psychomotor agitation, the person is noticeably slowed down
7. Feelings of excessive and inappropriate guilt and worthlessness
8. Diminished ability to think and concentrate
9. Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide