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What Is Depression?
While everyone of us has experienced feeling a little blue, or intense sadness or even grief, depression is more than that. It can take many forms: mild, moderate and major; it can be situational or chronic; at first it might seem easy to spot in someone, but many who live with depression hold jobs, attend school, work out, play with the kids, laugh with friends, etc. It would surprise those who know them to learn just how difficult putting one foot in front of the other is for them every day.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and/or loss of interest. When depression is severe, it can lead to thoughts of suicide, or an inability to manage even the smallest tasks like taking a shower, cooking a meal or taking the dog for a walk. However, depression can look, and even feel different in each person. We often don't like to talk about it, worried that others will see us as weak. We tell ourselves things like "I don't have it nearly as bad as others do--I shouldn't feel this way" or ask ourselves " just need to get over it." Living with depression is the complete opposite of being weak. To live with depression, whether for a few months or many years, requires tremendous courage and real strength to get through each day. However, feeling courageous or strong is often the last thing a depressed person would recognize in themselves.
Many of us have been there. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in Canada will experience some form of mental health challenge at a point in their lives.
How Do I Know If What I'm Feeling Is Depression?
Common symptoms (usually at least two weeks or more):
Study after study shows that several forms of psychotherapy( a.k.a. Talk Therapy) are as effective at reducing the intensity and frequency of depressive symptoms as taking anti-depressant medication among those diagnosed with mild to moderate depression.
However, it is important to consider the range of available treatments.. In some cases the right medication coupled with regular psychotherapy can produce an even better outcome than either talk therapy or medication, alone. Consult with your doctor before making any change to medications you take.
Studies show that the quality of the "therapeutic relationship" makes a big difference in how successful people felt their therapy was. It is common to find a good fit with the first therapist you see, but not always the case. If you feel that you have a connection with your therapist; that you like and trust your therapist, you are far more likely to feel like therapy was helpful. If you try therapy, but don't "click" with your therapist, don't worry and don't give up on therapy: find another provider. Any good professional therapist wants the connection to feel right for you, and won't take it personally if it doesn't. It might take trying out 2 or more before you find the right therapist for your needs and style. But, don't give up: finding a therapist that you feel fits well with what you are looking for will be worth it!
In the first few sessions, the therapist will ask questions about your goals, your history and what you've done to manage or cope with the issues that prompted you to seek therapy. She will share information on her style and approach and answer any questions you might have about the process. She will work with you to tailor an approach that feels right for you, that targets general and specific goals you want to achieve. This may include a range of methods, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Attachment-Focused EMDR, or even a personality styles profile, among other evidence-based approaches.
An initial intake session is 90 minutes, and the standard psychotherapy session is 50 minutes.
Ideally, attending a session each week for the first 1-3 months is recommended, depending on the issues to be addressed. You and your therapist will determine together how frequently to meet after that. However, there are many factors involved in deciding how often to meet and for how many sessions. These reasons include what you are trying to accomplish in therapy, the time you have available, the issues you are dealing with and the financial costs. Some people do well with a single session where they get some tips and tools to use. Others find one-two sessions a week work well for them. Some seek therapy for a short period of time (1-3 months), others attend sessions for years. Each person makes that choice based on their own needs and objectives.