Understanding depression

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

Image of the blog post "Understanding depression" on Tikvah Lake Recovery

“There’s a lot of depression out there,” says Tikvah Lake’s Therapist Byron Wickham. “It’s been there for many years.”

In fact for a few decades an increasing number of people are suffering from depression every year. Now it’s been intensified during this anxious era of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization. In America, in any year more than 17 million adults will have at least one major depressive period.

“Depression is very harmful for those who are experiencing it,” says Tikvah Lake’s Clinical Director Dr Jeff Allen. “It’s also harmful to those that are trying to cope with it, such as a family member or spouse.

“Everybody has a bad day, everybody gets depressed. But when you get so depressed that you cannot function with your job, you cannot function with your family, you isolate, you sleep a lot – that is a sign of not only depression but there possibly could be some anxiety. Or there could be some trauma within your life that you might not even recognize.”

What are the major signs of depression?

There are different types of depression, including major depression, bipolar disorder, situational depression, seasonal depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The major difference is their cause, although symptoms are very similar.

The major signs of depression can include:

1. Being irritable and intolerant

2. Lacking energy and motivation.

3. Continual low mood, frequently tearful.

4. Suicidal thoughts.

5. Moving and/or speaking unusually slowly.

6. Low or no appetite, with fluctuating weight.

7. Low self-esteem that means decision-making is extremely difficult.

8. Sleep problems.

Family and depression

Despite depression being more talked about than ever before – and more openness from sufferers – there is still a long way to go. It is still greatly misunderstood.

“A lot of times family members will just tell you to snap out of it,” says Byron. “They’ll say you’re moody or what’s the big deal?

“What people don’t understand is that how we perceive reality is what the issue really is. So what makes me upset about something may not make somebody else upset.

“But it may be a huge impact on that person. From their perception it’s a problem – therefore it is a problem for them. It may not be for you, but it definitely is for them.”

How to treat depression

Depression does not usually go away on its own. So if someone is struggling with depression they really need to get professional support.

In many instances if depression is left untreated it will actually get worse over time. Tragically, the end result of this can be suicide.

“Depression untreated is a massive problem,” says Byron. “People will end up maybe killing themselves.”

Our experienced team has decades of expertise in helping people who are suffering from depression. Thankfully there are some very effective methods to treat depression.

CBT for treating depression

One of the main treatments for depression that’s worked extremely well for many guests at Tikvah Lake Recovery is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Although CBT started in the 1960s it is in the past decade that it has really gained in popularity. 

“CBT is what is known as one of the talk-type therapies,” says Byron. “The concept of it is that you have negative thoughts and emotions and we sit down and process through those.

“Then you’re able to replace the negative thoughts with more positive ones. So then you have a perceptual shift.

“Once you have a perceptual shift you can have some objectivity on the issue. Then you’re able to move forward and be able to not have it affect your life as much as it has in the past.”

We spend time carefully listening to each guest to ensure their treatment is absolutely personalized. This is for the best chance of a swift, effective and long-lasting recovery.

Change your thoughts, change your life

“We’re trying to change a person’s thinking so that we can change the behavior,” says Dr Jeff Allen. “Unfortunately most of us are trying to change the behavior and then we think we are going to change the thinking.

“Let’s talk about why are you depressed, what is going on. Mainly there’s got to be some stressor that’s happened, something is going on in your life that may be buried really deep.

“A lot of people are depressed because they have so much pressure on them with their job. Then we have been dealing with COVID-19 and people have been in their homes and not able to move and do anything and they’ve gotten depressed.

“The mental health world has been inundated with so many people who are just so depressed because their world’s been turned upside down.

“They don’t have anything that is structured. So we have a structured environment here where they’re able to just unwind and relax and enjoy a non-stressful environment.

“Depression can be fixed.”

To find out how we can help treat you or someone you care about with depression, get in touch with us today.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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