Clinical Depression Is Much More than a Down Day

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Living with clinical depression is not the same as having a down day. Someone living with clinical depression has a persistent mood disorder. It disrupts feelings, thoughts, and the activities of daily living such as working, studying, and eating. True depression does not go away with the dawn of a new day. A person who is clinically depressed experiences some combination of the condition's symptoms every day for most of the day over the course of at least two weeks. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step toward recovery.

Recognizing Depression

Each individual living with depression has a unique experience. However, depression includes a low mood and some of the following common symptoms.

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, anxiety, or pessimism

  • Fatigue

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

  • Change in appetite

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Loss of interest in preferred activities

  • Difficulty with concentration, memory, or decision making

  • Irritability or anger

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts about death

  • Unexplained physical pain or digestive problems

Recovering from Depression

While a down day goes away on its own, depression does not. Usually, it takes a combination of medication and counseling to bring relief from the suffering. Several antidepressants are available. Sometimes it takes a period of trial and error to find the right antidepressant. An antidepressant needs to be taken daily for about four weeks to see if it is effective.

The goal of individual counseling, also called talk therapy, is to improve the emotional state of the person living with depression. A licensed counselor uses evidence-based techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Through CBT, the person living depression learns to replace negative or erroneous thoughts with healthy ones. Someone who has received CBT may stay healthy longer than someone who only took an antidepressant. Patients frequently continue to use the strategies they learned during CBT when they are no longer seeing a counselor.

Remember, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.

How To Improve Self-Esteem and Why It Is Important

What is Self-Esteem?

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              Self-esteem is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "a confidence and satisfaction in oneself" (2019).  Self-esteem is a person's belief in themselves and their abilities to do certain things or overcome obstacles.  Although there are several different reasons people may have low self-esteem, it is often traced back to a dysfunctional childhood or adolescence (Venzin, 2018).  Sometimes people with low self-esteem struggle with a belief their physical appearance, intelligence, or character is less than that of another. 

Why is self-esteem important?

              One's self-esteem can impact their mental health by reducing the person's quality of life and sometimes leading to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors (Venzin, 2018).  When someone has low self-esteem, they have minimal or no belief in their ability to do things and often avoid doing things because they do not believe they can be successful in doing this.  It is common for people with low self-esteem to struggle with depression and/or anxiety or people with depression and/or anxiety to struggle with low self-esteem; it continues to be unclear if the chicken or the egg comes first in this situation (Gold, 2016).  For some, depression and anxiety lead to low self-esteem and sometimes low self-esteem can lead to depression and/or anxiety.  Research also indicates that people with low self-esteem are at a higher risk to have unhealthy relationships and are also at a higher risk to develop an addiction of some kind (Gold, 2016). 

What helps low self-esteem?

              Some of the things to help with low self-esteem include being mindful and aware that you are having negative thoughts about yourself and actively working to change those thoughts which a therapist can help you work through. For example, if someone has a thought thinking they are "stupid, ugly, or fat" it is helpful to change that perspective to a positive thought that they are smart, attractive and desirable.  To do this, a therapist will work with them to help them recognize the negative thoughts so they can actively visualize a switch going from negative to positive thoughts about themselves.  A therapist may also help them recognize their strengths and help them focus more on their strengths than perceived weaknesses. 

What can you do?

              If you have low self-esteem, you can schedule an appointment with one of our therapists here to help you find your strengths and build off them.  If you have a friend or a family member that you believe is struggling with low self-esteem, depression or anxiety, just be there for them and listen when they need someone to talk to.  Of course, you could suggest they see a therapist, but some people do not see that as a helpful gesture so just play that one by ear.  If you or someone you know is having thoughts of hurting themselves or others, take them to the closest emergency department or call 911 for emergency response. 

Motivation: Losing It, Finding It, Keeping It

We have all been there – 27 things on the to-do list, baby crying in the high chair with mashed potatoes in their hair, work from the office you had to bring home to get done, your partner asking about dinner, and your head feeling like it might explode if you hear that same Taylor Swift song blasting from your teenager's bedroom one more time. You're exhausted, overwhelmed, and your body just wants to shut down rather than jump up and fly around the room getting everything done.

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So, you do what must get done – make a quick dinner, clean up the baby and put them to bed, confiscate the source of the Taylor Swift track, and slouch onto the couch. You are left with no energy, no motivation to finish that project you brought home from the office or work on the afghan you're knitting your mom for her birthday. What happened to your day?

Losing It

The days at the office are long and filled with little appreciation and unfulfilling tasks. Nights are chaotic and never seem to offer enough alone time. Weekends are packed with chores and errands and before you know it, Monday morning is breaking and the cycle repeats. You never seem to have that spark anymore to do more than the bare minimum, let alone the things you truly enjoy. Where did that feeling go?

Finding It

Motivation can be an elusive beast – something that needs to be nurtured and tamed. The good news is, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can implement that can help coax it back out:

  1. Set Goals – having short-term, specific, and achievable goals helps keep you and your motivation focused. And when you reach a goal, reward yourself – you've earned it!

  2. Sleep & Wake Up Well – before you go to bed at night, have a wind-down routine so that you get a deep, good night's rest. Then, when you wake up, try a simple five-minute meditation to start the day off with a positive vibe. Being out of alignment or exhausted all day from lack of a good night's rest does nothing to help with motivation.

  3. Make a Routine – you may feel like you have a routine now – go to work, come home, manage the chaos, go to bed, repeat – but that isn't the kind of motivation-inducing routine we are looking for. Make sure you have scheduled time for yourself. Keep to set times for bed and wake up and even meals. Keeping to a routine can help not just with motivation but with focus, energy, and even anxiety as well.

Keeping It

No matter what you do, you will still have days where the procrastination monster hits, and motivation is nowhere around to save you. And that's okay. The goal is to have less of those days and more productive days filled with the spark of positive progression in your life. Keep in mind that everyone is different, so be sure to explore different ways to kickstart the motivation flame within you. You may even need to change things up occasionally if you feel like what was working is starting to fall flat. The key is to never give up, never let yourself slouch on the couch and accept defeat, accept that the spark is gone because it is never gone.

Remember, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.