Depression explained

Depression is like living under a dark cloud that just won’t go away. Eventually, even the motivation to try to feel better seems to evaporate; people even say that it’s tough to follow through on behaviors that they know would help. Because of the progression of depression, it is important to get started in counseling sooner than later so that the depression doesn’t get too much momentum. But even if things have felt bleak for quite some time, taking action now will help you reclaim your life.

Depression symptoms

Sometimes, doing what could help can feel difficult because of the cognitive symptoms of depression like lack of motivation and presence of pessimism. But depression is not just painful thoughts and emotions, it is frequently accompanied by physical discomfort and lethargy. Insomnia, hypersomnia, appetite changes, irritability, and anxiety are other troublesome symptoms that may co-occur with depression.

Treating depression

As painful as depression is, the thoughts that go along with it can be even more painful. The mind seems to ruminate on self-loathing, guilt, regret, anger, and even suicide. Using mindfulness to manage depression is not about digging into the painful thoughts, but rather to simply see them for what they are, then move to different, healthier thoughts. Most people find that the more they try to avoid certain thoughts, the louder they seem to get. We can use this paradox to your advantage by becoming aware of depressive thoughts as soon as they happen, then intervening as soon as possible by using the tools we will develop together.

To treat your depression, I’ll work with you to:

  • Cultivate a mindfulness practice that helps you beat depression
  • Overcome the lethargy and lack of motivation that often comes with depression
  • Identify specific skills that change the biochemistry of depression


Common tools for fighting depression

Before jumping to medications, there are well-researched and consistently proven methods for combating depression (you’re never wrong to talk to your doctor/psychiatrist about medication though). Consistency and follow through are important with these tools. We will customize these tools, and others, to your unique personality and situation:

Depression FAQ's

Do I have bipolar depression if my mood fluctuates?

Probably not. Normal mood fluctuations are a common experience for all of us. Bipolar disorder is more extreme ups (manic phases) and downs (depressive phases) that causes significant impairment in daily life. There are milder versions, like Bipolar II that have what are called ‘hypomanic’ phases, where the up/manic phase isn’t as drastic, but it’s still more intense than normal mood shifts. If you aren’t sure, get in touch so we can talk about it.

Does depression cause people to use drugs and alcohol?

The pain that depression causes is a common reason that people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, but it doesn’t directly ’cause’ the using behaviors. People self-medicate when they feel like they cannot tolerate the pain they are experiencing and are desperate for even a temporary break from it. The trouble is, drugs and alcohol can be addictive, and the effects on the brain frequently make the depression even worse, which causes more cravings for the chemicals. A better approach is counseling, exercise, healthy diet, meditation, and sometimes proper medication that is prescribed by a psychiatrist. These drugs are specifically tailored to help depression without causing it to get worse in between doses.

What causes depression?

The causes of depression are varied. Sometimes there is a genetic link to an imbalance in neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, other times it can be related to major life events like trauma, grief, injury and major stress. Regardless of the root cause of depression, there is help.

Can depression be cured?

Depression can certainly be managed, but it is not a disease that needs to be ‘cured’ like cancer or an infection. As I mentioned above,  exercise, healthy nutrition, hydration, meditation, and medication are all extremely helpful in managing depression. Even massage therapy has been shown to have great benefits for people living with depression. The more you engage in these activities, and the more consistently you do them, the better the results. Very often, medication is not needed to manage depression. Counseling and therapy have been shown to be 2-3 times more effective than medication alone.

How long does depression last?

Depression can be a temporary symptom (i.e. not a diagnosis) of something like grief or stress, or a diagnosable condition like Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Diagnosable depression can be episodic (brief episodes of depression) or chronic.