Introduction to Depression
Depression, also called clinical depression, is a mood disorder characterized by an extremely low mood that lasts a long time and is not necessarily triggered by a negative life event. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. among people ages 15-44. Approximately 16.1 million American adults ages 18 and older experienced at least one major depressive episode each year. There are two primary forms of depression: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). At Aucoin and Associates Psychology Practice, we treat all forms of depression and help you experience relief from your symptoms as quickly as possible.
Sadness is only one small part of depression and some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Many of our clients have described their mood as empty or lacking ability to feel any emotion. Keep in mind, everyone experiences depression differently. Some symptoms of depression include:
-Persistent sad, anxious, numb, empty, or “blah” mood
-Feelings of hopelessness
-Extreme pessimism or inability to control negative thoughts
-Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
-Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities that used to bring enjoyment
-Decreased energy, fatigue, or being “slowed down”
-Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
-Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
-Increased or decreased appetite
-Thoughts of death/suicide or suicide attempts
-Mental and/or physical restlessness or irritability
-Physical symptoms, such as aches or pains, headaches, or digestive problems that
have no clear cause and do not go away with usual treatments
Major Depressive Disorder vs. Persistent Depressive Disorder
Major depression is characterized by at least five of the diagnostic symptoms listed above, one of which must be either an overwhelming feeling of sadness or a loss of interest and pleasure in most usual activities. These symptoms persist for two weeks or longer. Additionally, symptoms interfere with your ability to perform at your normal level of functioning at home with family, at work, at school, and/or socially. For instance, you may start missing work or school, or stop going to your usual social activities.
The essential feature of persistent depressive disorder (formerly called dysthymia) is a low, dark, or sad mood that is continuously present for most of the day and on most days, for at least 2 years (children and teens may primarily experience irritability which persists for at least 1 year). To receive the diagnosis of persistent depressive disorder, a person should also have two of the diagnostic symptoms listed above. During this period, any symptom-free intervals last no longer than two months. The symptoms are not as severe as with major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder may precede persistent depressive disorder, and major depressive episodes may also occur during persistent depressive disorder.
Once diagnosed, depression can be treated with medications, talk therapy, or a combination of the two. While there is no “cure” for depression, proper treatment can decrease the severity of or even eliminate your symptoms. Medication works well for most people to reduce depression symptoms. Some people with depression remain on medications throughout their lives while others work with their treatment team to discontinue medication after symptoms go away. Meeting with a therapist gives you a safe place to discuss your feelings and provides you an opportunity to learn how to effectively manage negative thoughts, and choose behaviors that improve mood. We will develop a treatment plan for you that includes medication, counseling, education, and lifestyle changes to help you lead your most productive and healthy life.