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10
Mar

Help For Depression: Finding Hope Through Support

Between a worldwide pandemic and national winter storm warnings, it is hard to know if depression is normal or if it is time to seek help. Discernment can be difficult when there is a low-grade depression lingering inside of you. You may be ignoring signs to seek help because it is easier to stuff feelings than feel them. Tolerance levels for discomfort may be increased due to the normalcy of grief around you.

Despite all of this, there is hope. There is a better way to do life, and it can be with the help of a professional therapist. It’s really hard to know when it is time to get help if you have been living a certain way for a long time. Even if you don’t feel miserable every day, there may still be a need to get help so that you can make improvements to your life. If you are feeling daily despair, it is definitely time to reach out.

You may feel resistant to getting help because it hasn’t worked out for you in the past. That is okay. You can start fresh today. There is no right way to do this but suffering alone no longer has to be your only option. You don’t have to prove your strength through solo productivity. This is a form of martyrdom and can make depression worse. It’s wonderful that you got this far with your coping strategies, and you can continue to grow by accepting help.

Some of the signs for depression can be subtle, but the check-in process starts with you. If you know something feels wrong, there are solutions. According to the Mayo Clinic, 

Common symptoms of depression or a depressive disorder can include:

1.     Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
2.     Fatigue or sleep interruptions

3.     Irritability
4.     Loss of interest in daily activities
5.     Unexplained physical pain
6.     Sudden weight gain/weight loss
7.     Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or suicide attempts
8.     Feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, or fixating on past failures

You may be experiencing one or all of these characteristics of depression and that might mean you are developing depression or possibly suffering with major depressive disorder, however, it could also be a sign of something else. In addition to the above symptoms you might also be experiencing suicidal thoughts. Though thoughts of suicide are a common part of human existence, if you are experiencing chronic, intense thoughts with possible plans to end your life this indicates that reaching out for help might be a life-saving option.

You do not have to check every box to get yourself help and checking boxes don’t necessarily mean you do or don’t have depression – a mental health professional can help you sort that out. Options for support include talk therapy with a therapist or an evaluation with a psychiatrist to talk about antidepressants or other medications that might help.

Speaking with a professional is important as they are trained to help rule out whether you are experiencing depression or another mental health condition like anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma response, or even responses to substance abuse. If are experiencing these symptoms, also consider scheduling an appointment with your medical doctor to also rule out any potential medical conditions that might have symptoms that feel like major depression.

You deserve to feel content, no matter what goes on around you. Sometimes, we need to get outside of ourselves to get a better look within. If you are ruminating on thoughts over and over again, you may be stuck. Instead of torturing yourself, taking small actions can be a next step. That next step can be seeking therapy.

How does therapy help with depression?

Learn more about what to look for in a therapist here.

Therapy provides an opportunity to share things that you haven’t been able to voice before. Therapists can lead you to other resources. Therapists are a resource. They want to help you find solutions that help empower you so that you can access your strengths whenever you most need them based on who you are and what your circumstances are.

Depression and depression treatment can be a lot of work. Talking with someone about your experience can also feel hard and overwhelming. Having a therapist you feel connected with on your side can help lighten your load as you navigate how to become better at reconnecting with who you are and making changes in your life that are meaningful.

Therapists have training in a variety of approaches clinically proven to be effective treatment in reducing depressive symptoms like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness-based therapies, and more. There is no one-size fits all when it comes to therapy; what works for one person might not work for another. Talking with a therapist about approaches that can be helpful for you, will make therapy more helpful.

It is important to reflect on how depression affects your life and learn ways to not let it take control of your life. Figuring out how to manage depression with someone, like a therapist, offers hope and connection.

How long will therapy take to help with depression symptoms?

A common question that surfaces once people decide to get help is how long it will take for therapy to “fix the problem”. Therapy can be a short-term or long-term solution depending on the individual. Shifting the emphasis from length of time to shaping a new way of life can bring back hope when it was once lost.

You may only need a few counseling sessions to start feeling like yourself again. For people who have clinical depression, long-term therapy can help brighten up ongoing dark spaces.

A good rule of thumb is to try out at least 3 sessions with a therapist before you make a decision. If it’s a heck no with one therapist, try another therapist until it is a heck yes.

There are really no rules with how long it should take to get rid of depression. For some people, they live with mild to moderate depression throughout their lives and others have more intense, periods of moderate to severe depression. There is no cut and dry answer because everyone is different, even when you have depression in common.

Choosing hopefulness and help can save your life, no matter how long it takes.

What can I do to help myself?

While you decide whether therapy with a mental health professional is the right choice for you, there are steps you can take to lessen depression today.

1.     Set a daily goal for yourself. Start small and grow as you have more energy and are able to check off these small goals. By setting a goal, you are giving yourself something to look forward to and bringing hopefulness back into your life. You are also teaching yourself self-discipline. If you decide to tidy a stack of papers, keeping the promise you made with yourself helps you to know that you can do it again tomorrow. If you skip a day, try again tomorrow. The goals don’t have to be done in extremes; they can be gentle progress toward a better you. The important thing to remember when setting a goal is to have compassion for yourself if you don’t achieve it and see it as an opportunity to re-assess what might be a more realistic goal. If you struggle with goal-setting, this is something a therapist can help you with. 

2.     Move your body. Depression is heavy, so putting one foot in front of the other can help. You can decide to walk around the park, lift weights in your living room, take a hike in nature, or do 5 jumping jacks. Even small movement can increase endorphins and boost your mood a bit. If you are struggling to move alone, ask a friend to join. Moving is a way for you to let yourself know that you are still here, and you are still worth the effort.

3.     Call a friend. Sometimes, a phone call can seem like a lot. But talking to someone you care about can help you. If it feels like you may be a burden to the person, give them permission to set boundaries with you. If it isn’t a good time to chat, call someone else. If you feel like you don’t have too many people to call, begin to put energy into making new friends instead of ruminating on past relationships. 

As adults, opportunities for friendships are lessened, but people still care and want to connect. Getting a therapist can open up new avenues on how to forge friendships with people. This can take time but is worth it.

4.     Attend a 12-step meeting or other support group. You don’t have to have an addiction to find a 12-step program that can work for you. There are many meetings around the world that are available to you. With the pandemic, many meetings have taken to Zoom as their meeting room, which means your choices are endless. Sometimes, depression can be a symptom of another cause. 

If you do find that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or experience substance abuse, AA (alcoholics anonymous) can be a place to start. If you find yourself in relationships where you are trying to fix or be fixed, CODA (codependents anonymous) can be a next step. There are many 12-step programs designed to help people who need support, especially if you are finding that you are powerless over your life, which can lead to depression. It takes courage, and you are worth it.

In addition to 12-step programs, there are several other types of support groups locally for divorce support, men supporting men, learning coping skills, depression, survivors of sexual abuse, boundaries, survivor of suicide loss, social skills, and more. In addition to support groups, there are other, non-therapeutic group activities that you can find on Meetup.com. A therapist can also help you find resources in your community that might be most helpful to your needs and goals.

Taking Action

Once you come to a place of acceptance with getting help for depression, you can take appropriate action. Even if you feel shame around not being able to accomplish this by yourself, let yourself celebrate that you are choosing a brighter future without as much suffering in your daily life. There is no shame in taking action to improve yourself. 

Living with depression is at times, heavy, sad, and can be life-threatening, depending on how long you have had it and how severe it has become. It is not worth powering through depression for one more day with no help to prove to yourself that you can power through. There are costs that come with that mentality, like perpetuating more depression rather than actively helping yourself through it. 

Not every solution is easy, but you will find yourself showing up to situations differently if you can grow your toolbox of coping strategies. You will find yourself more content and healthier if you are willing to risk a new beginning. It might feel scary right now, but with the help of a professional, you can learn to work through problems and reconnect with your self and your life.

For more tips on managing depression: 4 Tips For Managing Depression When It’s Hard and if you are worried about your teen: Teen Depression Is On The Rise. Here’s How Parents Can Help.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or seriously considering suicide, for immediate help, reach out to the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or in Colorado you can call 1-844-493-8255 or text “help” to 38255.

Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC


 

Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families. We help people learn to heal from and learn to live with depression. We provide individual, family and relationship therapy for depression and other life challenges. 
Denver Metro Counseling

Our Clinician’s Bios:
Audrey Bristol, LSW
Molly Ward, LCSW
Karan Steuart, LCSW, LAC
Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACC, ACS

Follow Denver Metro Counseling on Facebook: Denver Metro Counseling and Instagram: @denvermetrocounseling for other helpful information.