Depression Treatment Category

I'm never going to get out of this depression!

Most people would say that depression is a state of deep sadness, but you know it is far more than that. Depression is a way of thinking: thinking that your situation is hopeless, or that you are shameful or deeply flawed. Those thoughts make your depression worse, and that intensifies the negative thoughts. You have started down the depression spiral. So how do you get off?

First of all, let me tell you that your thinking is wrong. If you are feeling down, you fall prey to negative irrational thoughts without even realizing they are irrational. Those thoughts keep going around and around in your head as you travel down that spiral. We call this negative thought pattern rumination, and the antidote to rumination is reflection: stepping back from your situation and seeing it in a more positive, helpful light.

But if you could see your situation in a more positive light, you wouldn’t be depressed, right? So let me share with you a strategy I employed with someone who came to see ...

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Motivated by Fear

In the thick of experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks, it can seem like they are your biggest problem. This is natural, your body is in survival mode, it can only focus on what’s happening to it in the moment, like a pounding heart, feeling nauseated, feeling scared and hopeless. However, that anxiety and the uncomfortable sensations that accompany it are usually just the tip of the iceberg, meaning the anxiety is often a symptom of a bigger issue(s). Common bigger issues include low self-esteem, a need for control, fear of dying, etc. Sometimes it’s just one big issue, other times it’s a combination of several smaller issues, and unfortunately for some of us, these issues manifest in the form of anxiety and/or panic attacks because our bodies can only handle so much fear and stress before its tries to tell us “ENOUGH!”

If anxiety and panic attacks are present within you, it’s important to ask yourself: “Am I motivated by fear?” I...

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When Talk Therapy is not enough - Depression, Anxiety and Trauma

Is it possible that depression and anxiety as well as PTSD and other emotional problems have their origins in trauma?  Most often we think of trauma as blatant trauma - accidents, war, abuse, and other horrifying things that we witness and experience.  Equally signficant is developmental trauma - the kind of trauma we experience when we are little, alone and vulnerable and our parents are not present enough, loving enough, or are critical and demanding.  When this happens we experience breaches of attachment and this can occur as early as when we are in the womb.  We can suspect this if we frequently feel not good enough, not loveable, like we don't exist or would prefer not to be here.

For a long time it was thought we responded to trauma only through flight or fight.  The freeze response was unrecognized.  One freezes when powerless to take flight or fight.  When this happens, adrenaline and cortisol, mixed with anger, helplessness, panic, and hop...

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The Shame Game

I recently wrote about The Inner Bully, or the tendency for those of us who struggle with anxiety to criticize our perceived shortcomings. Those perceived shortcomings are the result of a sense of shame. Shame is defined as the underlying and pervasive belief that one is somehow defective or unacceptable. For us anxious people, that shame generally comes from three sources: our own inner shaming, perceived (and often fictional) criticisms from family and friends, and from the general cultural stigma of mental illness.

Inner shame often begins with the words “I should….” For instance, “I should be able to handle the same work load that I used to before getting panic attacks” or “I should be able to go out for lunch with friends without sweating through several layers of clothes” or “I should have tried harder to fight that panic attack.” The list goes on. Often times, the shame we feel is misplaced and/or is an exaggeration of reali...

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"What if..."

The dreaded “what if “ thoughts can dominate the minds of us anxious folk, whether we’re aware of it or not. One of the first tips I like to give my clients is: if a thought begins with “what if” then it can usually be disregarded as nothing more than an anxious thought. It’s funny, we think by dwelling on the “what if” thoughts that we are simply being practical by preparing for all possible outcomes. The secret about “what if” thoughts is that they are rarely productive and are often mentally draining. If you think about it, the phrase “what if” implies a problem that is non-existent yet, how can we solve a problem that doesn't even exist? We can’t.

 So, why do we automatically (or what feels like automatically) hone in on these “what if" thoughts? Because it is human nature for our focus to gravitate toward the negative; it’s a survival mechanism. Our brains are constantly scanning for th...

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The Inner Bully

We are often our own worst enemy. This is usually evident in the way that we talk to ourselves; telling ourselves we are "a loser", "weak", "fat", "stupid", "a failure" and the list goes on. 

So, why do we say these terrible things to ourselves? Well, some of us grew up hearing these cruel words from others while some of us have low self-confidence from trying to live up to society's high standards. Whatever the reason, the negative self-talk we engage in is simply not true and even if there is SOME truth behind it, that inner bully has a way of blowing it WAY out of proportion. For example; thinking "I'm always so ugly" when in reality, it's just one bad hair day. The inner bully can be so discrete, making it hard to catch, but it's very important that we do. If we continue to let that inner bully convince us we are no good, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, these negative perceptions of ourselves will become our reality and our truth. 

One way to reign in that in...

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3 Ways to Determine if it's ADHD, Depression, or Both

Over the years I have worked with numerous adults who were being treated for depression for many years prior to being diagnosed with ADHD. In addition, these individuals complained that the depression rarely or only temporarily lifted until the ADHD diagnosis was identified and treated. Many of these individuals spent years of their adult life being treated for depression, while the primary diagnosis was actually ADHD. Because of the pervasiveness of the co-existence of these 2 diagnoses, it is vital to understand the differences between the two and to also treat both the ADHD and the depression, when appropriate, in order to develop the most effective treatment plan and outcome. The following article addresses the question of how to determine if it’s ADHD, depression or both? And why it’s important to treat the primary diagnosis first, in order to achieve the best treatment outcome.

Depression is one of the most common disorders to occur with ADHD. In fact, it has been de...

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Booker T. Washington & Chocolate Cake: Real World Advice on Coping with Depression & Loneliness

Coping with depression, loneliness, and feelings of hopelessness can feel like a solitary activity. When we feel these ways, we often have the impression that we’re on our own. I recently asked my Facebook friends how they get through difficult times – an effort of mine to get more ideas as a therapist and to also help people feel more connected at a time when it’s hard to feel love from others. I received many replies and have published portions of each one. Following are the final comments I received from my friends. I hope you find these as meaningful as I have.

One friend commented on living long-term with depression: As a PTSD sufferer, depression is a constant companion. Honestly, I struggle each time something comes up and it’s always fresh and new, so I have to learn each time. Bouts from PTSD can last two days to 6 months. Sometimes it’s just about being calm and quiet and resting more than seems normal. Other times I need to exercise and burn of...

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Might as well do the dishes: Real World Advice on Coping with Depression & Loneliness

About a month ago, I posed a question to my Facebook friends, asking them how they cope with periods of depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. I received many wonderful, honest responses. Studies have shown that therapy and counseling are an effective ways to deal with depression. But I know that there are others ways too. So, I continue to share with you the variety of ways people get through the tough days, months, and years.

One friend said the following, quoting Lewis Carroll who wrote, ” Either the well was very deep, or he fell very slowly, for he had plenty of time as he went down to look about him and to wonder what was going to happen next.”: I pray, write and wait till the journey through the looking glass is over… and then I try to remember where I left off.

Another friend gets through these periods by focusing on where she is needed and releasing emotions: I try to focus on why I am needed now…2 children, so I must continue the commute to and ...

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Dance Party for One: Real World Advice on Coping with Depression & Loneliness, Part II

Feeling depressed, lonely, and hopeless are not unusual emotional experiences for many of us. Yet it is something we rarely talk about in public or with our friends. We read books – often in the solitude of our homes – which can be helpful. But books connect us in a different way then discussion. In an effort to destigmatize this part of life, I asked my personal Facebook friends for their thoughts on how they cope when they find themselves in difficult emotional states. Here’s the second installment of their lovely responses.

One friend offered some uncommon advice, going against the Washington, DC work ideal of staying busy: I get through by remembering that the bad/low time ends eventually, trying to sleep more (i.e. just let myself be exhausted and not try to push myself through, which is what society is often saying I should do), seeking support from friends/loved ones, get things done first thing in the day when I usually have energy even when in a depression.


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