Are You Depressed?

Are you depressed? How do you know if you need to seek treatment? Here’s a quick post on how to find out if you have a clinical depression versus a situational depression, and when to seek help.

The sun comes out (unless you’re in Seattle like I am, with little sun so far!), the birds are singing, and invitations for BBQ’s and outings flood your inbox. You would rather stay in bed, “caving” under the duvet, and wondering why you don’t feel like doing anything. Are you depressed?

The answer to that depends on how you answer a few questions:
1. How long have you been feeling the symptoms of depression (including low energy, change in sleep patterns, change in eating patterns, feeling hopeless, crying or feeling emotional, outbursts of anger, thoughts of suicide)?
2. Has something happened recently that triggered the beginning of a notable change in your mood?
3. Do you (or others close to you) describe yourself as a depressed or sullen person?
4. Do you live in a climate that does not get regular amounts of sunlight, or are you Vitamin D deficient in your diet?

If you answered “yes” to question #4, you might have a seasonal trigger to periods of depression during the months when sunlight exposure is minimal, and lack of Vitamin D also contributes to the overall picture of a depressed mood. Treatment with Vitamin D and UV exposure results in a dramatic lift of the depressed mood.

If you answered “yes” to questions #1-3 with answers ranging from four months to “all my life”, and you and loved ones describe you as “depressed”, it’s very likely you have more than a situational depression. A situational depression, triggered by an event such as the loss of a job, end of marriage or committed relationship, death of a loved one, or even a positive event such as a promotion or a new job, usually resolves once a person has completed the grief process associated with these profound changes. In these cases, time does tend to heal the depressed mood.

An easy way to help those who are not sure if they should seek treatment is to take a simple quiz available online. Just Google the phrase, “Depression quiz”, and a search should provide several choices. Usually, a situational depression that lingers on past four months is pretty good sign for you to seek professional help. Therapy and other treatments can speed up the healing process, alleviating the worst of the pain of depression to allow you engage those feelings without losing your ability to function.

Common forms of treatment (and those used at Seattle Direct Counseling) may include:

* Vitamins and Supplements (including Vitamin D and Fish Oil (Omega 3 Fatty Acids))
* Moderate to vigorous exercise at least three times a week or more
* Psychotherapy (aka “talk therapy)
* Medications prescribed by a doctor
* Herbs prescribed by a naturopathic doctor or a doctor of Oriental Medicine
* Adequate rest
* Nutrition (balanced meals, eating by the clock if the appetite has been suppressed)

Additional treatments include:
* vacation or a change of pace
* restructuring “down time”
* massage (I highly recommend this)
* acupuncture (stimulates circulation, calms nerves)
* Yoga for depression (uses Mindfulness and movement to calm and clarify the mind)

I also add what I call “reframing”, to help people remove negative talk and “reframe” experiences to change one’s outlook and perspective on an event, relationship, or situation.

Don’t waste another day wondering why you feel lousy. Get a free consultation, learn more about what’s happening to you, and take a step towards feeling better.

By Imei Hsu

Imei Hsu is a mental health counselor, active retired RN, AIP Coach and PN1-NC, writer, triathlete and arts promoter in the Seattle area and through online services. With 30+ years in healthcare (22+ years in mental health), Imei has a commitment to helping people discover insight into their health, relationships, and connecting. She is the owner of Seattle Direct Counseling and the blog, a presenter and speaker on a variety of psychological topics, and a positive force on the Internet. She launched her personal project, My Allergy Advocate, in 2018. Imei is a two-time Ironman Finisher (Mont-Tremblant 2016, Ironman Canada 2018); she also finished her first ultramarathon in 2017 and has gone on to race the 100K distance while preparing for 100 Mile trail races and a backyard ultra. You can find her running everywhere and eating all the thingz, watching movies, camping under the stars, and cooking real food.

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