Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common but serious mood disorder. It can impact how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Signs or symptoms may include: a) depressed mood most of the day nearly every day, b) diminished interest or pleasure in most activities nearly every day, c) significant weight loss when not dieting, d) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day, e) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day, and f) diminished ability to think or concentrate, among others.

Depression can appear at any age. However, the likelihood of onset increases significantly in adolescents.  The presentation of symptoms is likely different in children than adults.  With children most likely displaying irritable rather than depressed mood.

Some risk and prognostic factors for depression include temperament, environmental factors, and genetic or physiological influences. Temperamental risk considerations include negative affect which contribute to the onset of depression in response to stressful life events.  Environmental factors may include childhood experiences which can serve as a strong risk factor for depression.  They may also include trauma or stress. First-degree family members of individuals with depression have significantly higher risk for developing depression.

Depression is not a sign of weakness. It is not something that just “gets better.” It is a psychological condition that requires professional treatment. Psychological therapy is an effective treatment for depression either alone or in combination with medications. The benefits gained from psychological treatment may protect against symptoms returning after treatment is ended.

Two common evidence-based (proven) therapies for depression are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy in which patients learn to identify and manage negative thought and behavior patterns that can contribute to depressive symptoms. CBT helps patients identify negative ways thinking, change irrational beliefs, and modify behaviors that contribute to depression.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a form of therapy where the patient learsn to improve their relationships by better emotional expression and effective and more adaptive, healthier problem solving. IPT helps patients adapt to stressful life events, build social skills to increase support for coping with depressive symptoms and life stressors.

A collaboration between the psychologist and patient helps identify the most appropriate psychotherapeutic approach and treatment plan for an individual.  An understanding of the individual’s cognitive, social, developmental, and emotional functioning, along with symptom severity helps identity the most optimal treatment approach for depression.

SageForth Psychological Services is here to help.  Contact us at 703-999-8636 for a consultation.

If you feel that you may be of harm to yourself or someone else, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.