Psychology Resources
John J. Wagner, Licensed Clinical Psychologist # 6292

Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 20 million Americans currently suffer from depression. And antidepressant medications typically are listed as one of the top 10 most prescribed drugs in the United States.  Some believe that we live in the “age of depression and anxiety”.   Unfortunately, most people suffering from mental health difficulties, including depression, go untreated; despite the fact that numerous peer reviewed scientific studies have proven that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression.  

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -  DSM-5 (The resource psychologist, psychiatrist, and other mental health therapist use to diagnose mental health conditions) states that depression is comprised of the following symptoms:  Feelings of sadness, diminished interest and pleasure in most or all activities, significant weight loss or weight gain, sleep difficulties, psychomotor agitation or retardation, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, diminished concentration, and recurrent thoughts of death.

Individuals suffering from depression often feel that there is no hope.  They feel powerless; believing that there is no way to get better.  This belief is simply not true.  Depression is treatable.

Numerous research studies have proven that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression.  Of these, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be a well-established, highly effective, and lasting treatment.  CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns.  Behavior Therapy has also proven to be an effective treatment for Depression. Behavior Therapy uses techniques to reduce or stop the undesired target behaviors that are associated with depression.  Behavior Therapy seeks to alter behavior patterns to facilitate emotional health.

A myth of American culture is that certain individuals have “chemical imbalances” that can only be treated with medication.   This belief is not true.  Here is a list of some of the factors that have proven to alter your brain chemistry, and hence can improve or degrade your physical and emotional health depending on the quality, amount, or absence of these criteria.

  • Psychotherapy
  • Exercise – or lack of
  • Your thoughts (all of them).  Thoughts of yourself, the past, the future, your surroundings…
  • Relationships (all of them) (ones in the past and present)
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Sunlight – or lack of
  • Time spent outside – inside
  • Medication
  • Career
This list is in no way complete.  Numerous other factors alter the chemistry of your mind and body (significantly effecting your physical and emotional health). Effective psychotherapy (In particular CBT and Behavior Therapy) seek to improve/alter those areas of your life that are negatively effecting your emotional health.  By effectively discovering what factors contribute to an individual’s depression, psychotherapy should aim to alter those target thoughts and behaviors leading to increased feelings of happiness and well-being.

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For more information on Depression please visit the National Institute of Mental Health at:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml