The Whats, Whys, and Hows of Depression and Therapy

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In the past few decades we have come a long way toward recognizing the importance of psychological health. Less than a century ago, anybody with any kind of mental disorder would be locked away in mental institutions and kept away from the general public. “Out of sight, out of mind” was the general consensus. Now it is much easier to seek actual help for disorders such as depression. People used to be afraid to admit that there may be something wrong — now, many know they don’t have to go through it alone.

What is depression?

Depression is actually a more general term for something called “Major Depressive Disorder,” though depression can be symptomatic of other disorders as well. Worldwide, over 350,000,000 people are affected by depression. Low self-esteem, reduced sex drive, withdrawal from public situations, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable are all common symptoms.

Why do we get depressed?

There is no singular cause of depression. There may be something physiological, such as a hormone imbalance, but it can also be caused by several real-life factors. Stress is one of the most common factors, whether it’s a new job or a failing marriage. Drug use of some kind — alcohol, smoking, or something more serious — can lead to depression. Even the changing seasons can affect the mood.

How do we cure depression?

There is no specific “cure” for depression — while there are medications, it isn’t as simple as taking a pill every morning. The best way to treat depression is with regular psychotherapy sessions. Therapy services, whether it’s couples counseling for struggling marriages or individual counseling, usually last between 10 to 20 weeks, and antidepressant medications only take full effect after four or six weeks. The best recommendation is to take these two in conjunction with one another — in other words, therapy combined with medication yield the best results. Counseling works by speaking with a licensed mental health care professional that helps determine the causes for their depression and possible methods of working through those factors.
Depression is one of the more common psychological issues facing Americans. In 2012 about 16,000,000 adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode, but only about 50% sought treatment. There are ways to help those afflicted. Just because someone is going through depression doesn’t mean they have to go through it alone. Great references here.

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