Do You Feel Sad, Empty, or Hopeless?

 

Do you not feel like yourself lately?

Do you find yourself not enjoying the things you used to really enjoy?

Is it hard to get up in the morning, and even harder to get through the day?

Do you feel sad or empty much of the time?

 

Depression is a really common experience in this country (more than 16 million people experience it every year) and it’s especially common among women.  Because it’s so common, it’s become a part of everyday conversations, like saying that something is “depressing” or that you’re feeling “depressed.”  While it’s great that we’re talking about it more, sometimes that makes it harder to know if what you’re experiencing is actually depression.  

When is a rough week or two actually depression?  And what difference does it make if it actually is depression?  

Depression can be difficult to define sometimes.  Sadness, grief, and loneliness are all feelings that can feel like depression at times.  Sometimes, those feelings can even contribute to a period of depression.  While specific diagnostic criteria vary, some of the common things people describe when they’re experiencing depression include:

Brennan C. Mallonee, LMHC • Individual Counseling in Cambridge, MA

•Feeling down or low

•Feeling empty or numb

•Feeling irritable

•Crying more often than usual or for no particular reason

•Feeling like life is pointless

•Feeling like everything is more of an effort than it used to be

•Not enjoying the things you used to find fun and exciting

•Feeling unmotivated

•Having trouble concentrating

•Having trouble making decisions

•Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep

•Feeling like you’re going through the motions

•Isolating yourself or withdrawing from the people who matter to you

•Wondering if your loved ones would be better off without you, or having thoughts of suicide

If you’ve experienced several of those things recently, it might be time to get support from a professional.  A skilled therapist can help you determine whether what you’re experiencing is depression and if therapy would be a good fit for addressing your concerns.

 

Get Your Life on Track Again

Therapy is a proven way to manage depression and learn ways to prevent it recurring.  Many people with mild to moderate depression find relief solely through talk therapy.  I help people who are ready to dig in and make some real changes find relief and a happier, brighter future.  I work with you as a team to find the best way to address your concerns.  

Brennan C. Mallonee, LMHC • Individual Counseling in Cambridge, MA

Some of the things we might start by talking about include:

•What things you’ve been experiencing recently that might point to depression, such as low mood or irritability

•What times, situations, or events tend to coincide with feeling low or major changes in your life that may be related

•How the people in your life respond to your feelings and how this has been affecting you

•What ways you’ve tried to help yourself and how they’ve worked for you

 

When we have a good idea of how depression is affecting you and the ways it shows up in your life, we can come up with a game plan.  Some things I often do with clients include:

•Learning to reframe thought patterns that contribute to depression

•Exploring healthy lifestyle changes that can help you to raise your mood

•Problem-solving ways to address life circumstances that play a part in depression

•Learning to build strong, healthy relationships that help you to be less isolated

•Putting the framework in place to make you more resilient in the face of future challenges

 

Lasting change

Brennan C. Mallonee, LMHC • Individual Counseling in Cambridge, MA

I’m interested in helping people to create lasting changes in their lives.  To do this, I help you explore the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical levels of your experience.  When you address depression on all these levels, you build the kind of resiliency that makes a long-term difference in your life and makes you less likely to experience recurrences of depression.  I personalize our work together using ideas and techniques from a variety of counseling theories in order to give you the most effective way forward for your particular situation.  

My approach is down-to-earth, warm, and often humorous, creating a place where you can address the biggest challenges in your life.  My clients find our work helps them to better understand the problems they’re facing, what they need in order to be happy and healthy, and the best ways they can face future challenges.

 

But don’t people just take medicine for depression?

Antidepressants are one tool for treating depression, and many people find them extremely helpful. In cases of severe, suicidal depression, they can even be literal life-savers.  Some people aren’t comfortable taking psychiatric medication or find that common antidepressants aren’t the best fit for them for other reasons.  For those who do find antidepressants helpful, studies have found that they’re most effective when used in conjunction with therapy.  Antidepressants are just one of the many tools we have to help people struggling with depression, and therapy is a place to learn and implement some of the others.  If we meet and I believe that you would benefit from a medication evaluation, I’ll discuss that with you further and can help you explore that option.

 

But won’t this just go away on its own if I wait it out?

It might, or it might not.  Some people find their depression lifts eventually without them making any particular changes or getting treatment, while others find that it doesn’t.  You could wait it out, but you’ve probably landed on this page because it’s getting to the point where it feels like more than you can handle on your own.   There’s no shame in that - we aren’t usually taught how to manage things like depression and often find ourselves feeling lost when it happens to us.  There are effective, well-studied treatments that can help lift depression and equip you with the tools to manage any recurrences, though, and therapy is a place to learn them.  A good therapist can help you figure out the underlying roots of the depression you’re experiencing in order to tell the best tools for your situation.  

 

But I don’t know if I have the energy for something new right now.

Depression saps your energy!  Sometimes small changes - like committing yourself to showing up to a therapy appointment - can make a difference.  Feeling like you’re doing something constructive to help yourself can even give you a boost in and of itself.  It might be hard to imagine taking on something new right now, but it also could give you the tools to feel like yourself again, so you have energy for the things that are most important to you.  Therapy is an investment in yourself and in getting your life back.

You Can Have a Better Life

If you'd like to know more, contact me to schedule your free 20 minute phone consultation and I'm happy to help you determine if therapy is a good choice for you.  I look forward to helping you find your path to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Brennan C. Mallonee, LMHC • Individual Counseling in Cambridge, MA

All images courtesy of Pixabay