Reviewed by Dr. J.-M. Assaad, psychologist & Dr. L. Zozula, psychologist on July 30th, 2015
What do award winning actress Angelina Jolie, internationally renowned and acclaimed author JK Rowling, NFL hall a fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Princess Diana have in common? Besides international recognition, these successful public figures have all suffered with depression. They will be the first to tell you that depression is serious, that depression is real. But also that it is something that can be dealt with and overcome.
Every now and then, do you find yourself feeling sad or wanting to be left alone? To a certain extent, these are healthy emotions and reactions that we must go through. For some, a bad day passes and turns into a brighter one. For others, however, bad days last. Depression is not simply the absence of happiness or synonymous with sadness. It is so much more than that. It affects individuals of different ages, gender and socio-economic background. Do you sometimes feel that prolonged sadness, irritability and lack of motivation is simply a part of your personality or justify it as being ‘’just who you are”? If so, you must also believe that nothing you do can change that. We are here to prove you otherwise. Depression is not who you are, it is something that is happening to you. And so, it is also something that can be overcome.
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Depression is an inner battle that most struggle with in silence… when it shouldn’t be. At times, it can be frustrating that others do not seem to understand what you are going through. Princess Diana explained that, for her, depression felt like no one was listening to her. Each and every one of us has our own definition of what ‘’being depressed’’ means. For Angeline Jolie, depression was experienced as ‘’feel[ing] [she] was going into a very dark place and wasn’t capable of getting up in the morning’’. It is important to keep in mind that although you may feel alone, you aren’t. You do not have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders. There is always someone out there to help and listen. If you feel alone or have the impression that family and friends do not understand what you are going through, a licensed psychologist is there and trained to help.
Symptoms of depression
Do you feel sad for weeks on end due to a specific event or no defined reason? Do activities that use to once bring you joy now leave you feeling blasé and uninterested? Are your daily roles and responsibilities executed with strain and difficulty? If so, something more than sadness is at play.
Depression affects different people in different ways. However, specific behaviors, thoughts and feelings are common indicators of depression.
Have you felt or experienced:
- Loss of appetite or changes in eating behaviors?
- Disturbed sleep or changes in sleep patterns?
- Changes in sexual behaviors/desire?
- Uncharacteristic memory impairments?
- Difficulty concentrating on mundane tasks?
- Thoughts associated with self-harm?
- Feelings of hopelessness?
- Atypical fluctuations in mood?
- Unusual feeling of anger or frustration?
- Feeling like a failure or as though you have let others down?
- Seclusion or withdrawal for social situation due to lack of interest?
If you have answered yes to a few or several of the above questions, read on to find on what this means.
Different types of depression
The death of her mother left Angelina Jolie feeling depressed. After the birth of her son, Princess Diana experienced postpartum depression. After his third divorce, NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw spiraled into depression. Different events and stressors affect people in different ways and can lead to depressive states or episodes.
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An important distinction must be made between different types of depression, namely seasonal depression, dysthymia, subsyndromal depression, postpartum depression (PPD) and major depression.
- Seasonal depression (SAD): depression caused by seasonal changes (weather)
- Major depression (MMD): depressive periods where individual experiences several behavioural, physical and cognitive (thoughts) symptoms associated with depression . Learn more about major depression here
- Dysthymia: Similar to major depression, dysthymia is characterized by milder and fewer symptoms that last for over a 2 year span. To learn more about dysthymia, click here.
- Subsyndromal Depression: characterized by the presence of depressive symptoms that interfere with everyday life but not enough to be characterized as major depression
- Postpartum depression (PPD) : Affects new mothers a few weeks after childbirth, PPD is characterized by irritability, hopelessness, extreme sadness and guilt. Learn more about postpartum depression, click here.
If you have answered yes to a few or several of the above, you may be experiencing depression. If you haven’t already taken the nine item depression questionnaire and received your depression severity score, we propose a brief exercise that may offer a glimmer of clarity. Reflect on how you have been feeling for the last few weeks. Click here and answer the nine proposed questions as honestly as possible. Your feedback will remain confidential and only you will have access to the results and outcome. This free depression severity assessment may help you identify if you are currently struggling with depression.
Please take special note : Such tests do not offer professional diagnosis. They are simply a tool to help you get the help you need. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to obtain a valid diagnosis as only this will ensure that you obtain the necessary help you need.
Seeking help for depression
As is the case in all aspects of our lives, small problems that are unaddressed have a way of snowballing into something that is bigger. So big in fact that we become unable to tackle them by ourselves. The same idea applies with depressive symptoms and episodes. Unfortunately, depression and its negative symptoms do not cease to exist even if ignored. Contrarily, the opposite is true. With time, their presence and severity grows. Depression can spiral into paranoia and hallucinations if ignored. That is why prevention is key when dealing with depression.
Now that you know what you know, deciding to seek help is the necessary next step on your journey. We know that the idea of climbing a mountain can seem overwhelming when you’re out of breath and running low on motivation. Yet, the hardest part is sometimes mustering up the courage and deciding to take your first step. We understand where you are coming from and are here to help you get where you need to be.
A licensed psychologist can guide you to manage and overcome depression. You are not in this alone. Our goal is to help you alter thought patterns and develop skills that will help you lead a happier life and get you back to feeling like yourself. Read on to find out how.
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Treatment for Depression
Before she became the author of Harry Potter, after her divorce, a single mother in midst of her struggling career, JK Rowling made a decision that changed her life. She decided to seek help by choosing to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychologist. For Rowling, therapy acted as inspiration that allowed her to liberate herself from her demons and dark moods and ultimately inspired the creation of Harry Potter. She even admits that her famous mythical soul-sucking creatures, the Dementors were an analogy of how she felt while depressed. Therapy marked for her, the beginning of a new life.
We all have our own dementors. They surface in our moods and feelings and are a reflection of our thought patterns and inner dialogue. The conversations we have with ourselves are some of the most important we will ever have because they directly affect our perception of our self and the world around us.
Often times, transforming negative self-talk patterns into positive and realistic ones can make a world of difference. A licensed psychologist can help you do just that. Our thoughts, actions and feelings define our outlook on life. When we are depressed, our perception is geared towards justifying how we feel by falsely finding negativity in everything, everyone and everywhere. This vicious circle of justifying feelings with actions and emotions must be broken. A licensed psychologist is an objective trained helper that will guide you to look at the world through a more positive and realistic lens.
In addition to inner dialogue and thought patterns, lifestyle changes also play an important part in alleviating symptoms of depression. The increasingly sedentary and online world we live in can sometimes make us feel alone and isolated. A psychologist can propose concrete tools and techniques that can help you reach your objectives. Depression is often felts as a loss of control over one’s own life. A psychologist can help you regain the power over your own thoughts and help you gear them towards a positive path.
A life without depression is possible : let us show you how
If you have depression or are unsure and looking for some guidance and reassurance that this too shall pass, our team of trained professionals is here for you. Almost half of individuals who suffer from depression have never sought out professional help. The good news: it’s not too late. Seeking help makes a difference! In fact, 80% of those affected with depression are able to successfully manage and overcome it.
Contact us at 1-844-337-2473 to start your journey to a better tomorrow today with the help of a trained psychologist.