Every day the counselors at Family Legacy see clients dealing with depression. While everyone experiences sadness or grief during challenging times in their lives, those feelings tend to pass over time. But for many people, those feelings don’t pass, and they become stuck, feeling blue, empty, or hopeless that things will improve.
Individuals experience depression differently, leading to a variety of treatment options, depending on the specific needs and challenges for each person. The cause of depression may be as numerous as the various ways it appears, and often includes a combination of brain chemistry, physiological changes, stress, life transitions and more.
Depression is a term that may describe some or all of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
- Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Reduced sex drive
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Angry outbursts
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Indecisiveness, distractibility, and decreased concentration
- Fatigue, tiredness, and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it’s obvious something isn’t right. Other people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
These symptoms can additionally result in one experiencing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with psychological counseling or a combination of medication and counseling.
If you are struggling with depression, please consider contacting Family Legacy Counseling at (515) 727-1338 to set up an appointment. One our trained counselors can begin working with you collaboratively to discover and overcome obstacles while paving a path to symptom resolution and meaningful change.
Sometimes the severity of depression can reach a point where suicide begins to look like a viable option. Though the underlying causes that give rise to suicidal thoughts and feelings can be very different among individuals, the act of suicide is almost always seen as a solution to escape some mental anguish or emotional turmoil. A completed suicide is very difficult to predict, so all suicidal thoughts or feelings need to be taken seriously. Some especially significant risk factors include the following:
- A plan for suicide (thought has been given to how to end one’s life)
- Means to follow-through with plan for suicide
- Sense of overwhelming hopelessness or despair about the future
- Social isolation and lack of a support network
- The above, combined with impulsivity (can be heightened by drug or alcohol use)
If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings, it is important to reach out for help. If you are at immediate risk, we advise you to call 911 or get to a hospital where you can be kept safe until the crisis passes or until you get linked up with additional supports. These supports may include a Family Legacy psychologist or counselor skilled at working with those experiencing depression and suicidal ideation. We encourage our clients to talk about their suicidal thoughts and feelings, though we also encourage our clients to be aware of the danger of thinking about suicide as a permanent solution to what may be a temporary problem. This problem may last weeks, months, or perhaps even years…but there is reason to believe that with the right combination of help and support that change is possible.