Feeling sad is perfectly normal. However, constant feelings of sadness cause you to lose interest in everything and everyone around you is not. Also known as major depressive disorder or major depression, clinical depression often makes it difficult to eat, sleep, care for yourself, or take care of all other basic yet essential tasks. Sadly, many people who suffer from clinical depression aren’t receiving the treatment they need. Worse still, these same individuals are often self-treating their depression by abusing alcohol, prescription pills, or illicit substances.
When major depressive disorder is diagnosed, understood, and successfully managed, the need to self-treat in potentially harmful ways is eliminated. Our treatment programs in Fort Lauderdale can help you overcome addiction and mental illness.
Risk Factors for Depression
Major depressive disorder affects 6.7 percent of the adult population in the United States. Often attributed to a combination of social, biological, and psychological sources, depression can have many underlying causes. Common risk factors for depression include:
- Insufficient social support or none at all
- Financial hardship
- Family history of mental health issues
- Chronic, long-term health issues
- Chronic pain
- Significant life changes (divorce, death of a loved one, relocation)
Gender is also considered a risk factor for depression. Although 20 to 25 percent of adults will experience at least one depressive episode in their lives, clinical depression is twice as likely to occur in women as it is in men. Gender-related hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, peri-menopause, menopause, childbirth, and menstruation can be a catalyst for depression. Age is additionally considered a risk factor. As people grow older and experience changes in their memory, cognition, and physical abilities, losses in their independence and overall sense of autonomy can cause depression as well. However, heredity ranks top among all other risk factors. People whose children, siblings, or parents suffer from clinical depression have a very high likelihood of developing this disorder as well.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Clinical depression is often misunderstood. Major depressive disorder is not simply a prolonged period of sadness. Sadness typically has an identifiable cause and it usually abates within a relatively short period of time. Conversely, people who suffer from clinical depression don’t always know why they feel sad. Moreover, their sadness doesn’t go away even after several days, weeks, or even months have passed.
Common signs of depression include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Lack of interest in self-care
- Dramatic decreases or increases in appetite
- Mood swings
- Lack of pleasure in normally enjoyable activities
In men, depression can often cause frustration and aggression. Given that men are less likely than women to talk about how they feel, some men lash out when their depression becomes overwhelming.
For both men and women, prolonged bouts of untreated depression can also result in suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviors. People may contemplate suicide as means for relieving their pain when they are unable to find effective coping tools on their own.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
People may be diagnosed with clinical depression after they’ve experienced at least five of the most common symptoms of this disorder for a minimum of two weeks. One of their symptoms must include either loss of interest in people and activities or a continuously depressed mood throughout this time. Other symptoms that mental health professionals look for are:
- Noticeably reduced physical movement
- Slowed cognition
- Daily fatigue
- Inappropriate and excessive guilt
- Marked weight changes
- Daily indecisiveness
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Persistent feelings of worthlessness
Diagnosed depressive disorder is distinguished from common sadness or short-term depression in that it prevents people from functioning normally both socially and professionally.
Depression Treatment in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Treatment for major depressive disorder works best when it takes a multi-pronged approach. People who live with this condition must learn good self-care. This includes proactively managing and mitigating stress, practicing good sleep hygiene, eating well, and making an effort to maintain meaningful social connections. Depression must also be treated at its source. This can include efforts to achieve hormonal balance and balanced brain chemistry and to identify and resolve nutritional deficiencies. When past or present traumas, unresolved guilt or grief, and feelings of low self-worth lie at the heart of depression, these issues must be addressed as well.
In instances in which depression is determined to be the result of hormonal or chemical imbalances, certain medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be used to promote ongoing mood stability. Anti-depressant medications called selective Seratonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can provide remarkable improvements in mood balance without setting the stage for strong and potentially harmful drug dependencies. These include drugs like:
- escitalopram oxalate
There are also:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Antidepressant medications are chosen according to the assessed needs of the individual, the underlying causes of a person’s depression, the availability of other treatment types, and their expected level of effectiveness when compared to potential side effects or other risks.
Psychotherapy & Psychoeducation
Psychotherapy and psychoeducation are invaluable tools in depression treatment. They teach people how to consciously change their thinking and behaviors to alleviate or prevent stress and to produce more desirable outcomes overall. Psychotherapy is also used in anxiety treatment, which is closely related to depression treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Designed to help patients identify and replace negative thought patterns, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) encourages positive, proactive problem-solving. With CBT, patients at Agape Treatment Center learn how to identify the underlying causes of their depression and tackle them at their source. CBT promotes the application of strategies like diligent self-care, stress management, and financial sustainability to combat feelings of hopelessness. Activities like mindfulness meditation, journaling, and cognitive restructuring make it easier for people to live in the present moment, take action to solve the problems they can solve, and accept the challenges that do not have identifiable solutions.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a modified form of CBT. With DBT, patients learn to identify and accept negative and unhealthy thinking patterns. By validating these behaviors, DBT makes it easier for patients to change them. DBT often involves acknowledging the trauma, negative conditioning, or other hurtful events that led to self-harming behaviors and defeatist thinking. DBT leverages mindfulness exercises and seeks to improve patients’ tolerance to stress and their ability to communicate their needs and feelings to others. DBT provides the same outcomes as CBT but places a greater focus on affirming the emotions and past experiences of the individual.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a popular and effective tool for treating clinical depression. This is especially true in instances in which clinical depression co-occurs with alcohol addiction or substance use disorder. EMDR therapy aims to address the post-traumatic stress caused by hurtful, harmful past events by helping patients fully process what they’ve experienced. This treatment uses bilateral stimulation or two forms of simultaneous stimulation to make the processing of traumatic events both less stressful and less painful. EDRM dims the intensity of traumatic experiences while they’re being actively discussed and remembered during treatment. This way, these same events are far less likely to cause overwhelming distress in the future. EMDR works well for patients with major depression with risk factors that include unprocessed guilt or grief, childhood trauma, and recent trauma.
Rapid Resolution Therapy
Much like EMDR, rapid resolution therapy (RRT) addresses depression by targeting the traumas or sources of trauma that are believed to be its underlying cause. With RRT, people can overcome the long-term or continuous effects that past trauma is having on their lives. RRT leverages hypnosis, imagery, and stories to help people deal with disturbing emotions, negative thought patterns, and self-harming behaviors.
Biofeedback therapy helps patients connect with themselves. It is an excellent tool for those with clinical depression who have a hard time understanding how they feel, recognizing how their environments and thought patterns affect their moods and behaviors, and who need help learning how to listen to themselves. During biofeedback therapy, electrical sensors are attached to various parts of a patient’s body. These sensors track things like muscle tension, body temperature, brain wave, respiration, and heart rate. Over time, patients learn how to control normally involuntary processes to moderate their blood pressure and heart rate, limit muscle tension, and address other physical signs of emotional distress. Biofeedback therapy provides effective tools for proactive, in-the-moment, stress-reduction.
Find Freedom at Agape Treatment Center
At Agape Treatment Center, our programs are always customized to suit the needs of the individual. Although major depression is an incredibly common issue, we recognize that it can look and feel different for every person. On our Florida campus, we have both medical and mental health professionals on-site who can devise and implement multi-pronged treatment plans for addressing:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Negative behavioral conditioning
- Chronic physical pain
- Bipolar disorder
We also offer services and support that help our clients establish comfortable, sustainable lives. We provide solid strategies and helpful resources that assist people in achieving financial stability, housing stability, and reliable social support. With our whole-health, whole-person approach, we also stress the importance of good self-care by offering nutritional counseling, fitness counseling, sleep support, and more. If you’ve been struggling with depression, we can help. Contact us today to find out more about our programs and to speak with an admissions coordinator.