Help For Depression
Are you feeling hopeless and stuck in life?
Are you no longer able to be the person you used to be or who you want to be?
Do you no longer experience joy or laughter in your life?
Do you feel lost and confused about where you belong or what the purpose of your life is?
Are you overcome by feelings of guilt, shame, or self-disgust? What about self-loathing?
What is Depression?
Depression is a common mental illness that can significantly impact the lives of individuals and their loved ones. When people are depressed, they often find it difficult to meet obligations and responsibilities or to function at a level that they were once able to.
Depression is very different than the “blues” that all of us experience from time to time as the “blues” tend to pass within a few days. In order for depression to be diagnosed, however, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. Although the severity of symptoms may fluctuate over time, for some people, the symptoms of depression can persist for much longer than two weeks, sometimes months or even years.
Depression often causes people to feel chronically tired, unmotivated, and disinterested in activities and past-times that they used to enjoy. Often, depression will make it difficult for people to make decisions, to be able to concentrate or focus on what they are doing, and to become forgetful and scattered. Many people complain about sleep disruptions, varying from too much sleep (and still not feeling rested or rejuvenated) or not nearly enough. Appetite is also usually impacted, sometimes leading to under-eating or over-eating and thus, many people with depression may have moderate or significant changes in their weight. As hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, irritability, and disinterest set in, depression can cause people to withdraw from their friends and family and seek isolation.
In order to avoid their emotional pain or having to talk about it with others, some people may become “workaholics,” as being too busy with work can provide an easily acceptable excuse for missing social gatherings or get-togethers. It is also not uncommon for those with depression to also feel it physically in their bodies in the form of aches and pains, headaches, digestive problems, and more (even when there are no underlying physical reasons).
With a list like this, it is not surprising that when people are depressed, they often find that it significantly interferes with their daily family, social, and work lives and that it causes them significant levels of distress.
There is help! – Through our West side Edmonton office, we offer counselling for people who want to feel better and end their struggle with depression.
If you are struggling with depression, you may be feeling like you are a lost cause or that there is no hope for you to get better, but please know, that with the right tools, it is possible to feel better and end your struggle with depression while continuing to live.
There is hope!
What Causes Depression?
Although there are many explanations for depression, it is most likely caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It can arise from within a person, such as from hormonal imbalances, or from without, such as from adverse or stressful life experiences (job loss, loss of health, deaths, relocation, a new baby, lack of work-life balance, etc).
Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder or Major Depression (DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5)
Major Depression (MDD) Is the more severe outcome of chronic low mood, pessimism, lack of energy, and decreased interest in once-pleasurable activities. It significantly impacts a person’s ability to function like they used to, to meet responsibilities, and to perform at work, school, or to connect with loved ones. Often, people experiencing clinical depression also have significant difficulties with sleep, appetite, and poor concentration and decision-making. To meet the criteria for MDD, symptoms must exist for at least two weeks and separate episodes can occur (meaning a person may experience alternating time periods of when they are feeling okay and then clinically depressed).
Although dysthymia involves the same symptoms at major depression, these symptoms, which often last for two or more years, are of a lesser intensity or less severe. Many people with dysthymia may still feel hopeless and have a lack of energy or interest in things, but the severity of their symptoms does not significantly impact their ability to function in their personal lives, at work, or at school. It is possible, however, for someone to have dysthymia and also experience episodes of depression.
NEW * Persistent Depressive Disorder Diagnosis (DSM-5)
This diagnosis has been added with the release of the new DSM-5 (May, 2013). It was added with the intent to highlight how some forms of depression are much more chronic than others. As a result, both dysthymia and chronic major depressive disorder are included within this new diagnostic label.
Related Disorders or Difficulties?
Depression in Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic-Depressive Illness, occurs when a person experiences depression and at least one manic or hypomanic episode. A manic or hypomanic episode is when the person feels extremely high, has lots of energy and ideas, and a reduced need for sleep. They will also tend to talk fast and non-stop (making it difficult for others to understand them and/or to interrupt) and feel quite restless and thus, find it hard to slow down or remain still. At times, a manic episode can become severe enough to include hallucinations, delusions, or require hospitalization. For more information on Bipolar Disorder, please click here.
Bereavement & Grief. Previously, before the DSM-IV-TR was recently updated to the DSM-5 (2014), if a person had experienced a recent death of a loved one (bereavement), they would not have been diagnosed with depression - unless they became psychotic, suicidal, or severely impaired. Now, with the DSM-5, even if you are in bereavement, if you meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, you can be diagnosed with depression.
This change in diagnostic criteria is more accurate because the fact remains that some people are clinically depressed whether or not they lost a loved one. More importantly, the death of their loved one may not be the reason for their depression. Although the death of a loved one can be a trigger for someone to develop depression, it should also be noted that most people do not develop clinical depression as a result of bereavement.
How are Depression and Grief Different? Some of the defining differences between grieving (one’s reaction to a loss) and depression is that when someone is grieving, they can experience moments of happiness, enjoyment, or hope that things will get easier and then moments of sadness or grief. They also don’t tend to suffer from feelings of worthlessness or self-shame. In depression, people tend to be chronically burdened by low moods and energy without any or very few moments of reprieve.
Bereavement and grieving are normal and do not usually require professional support. However, if your grief is becoming complicated or doesn’t seem to be easing after a long time, or you would like extra support while you are grieving, then obtaining professional help may be beneficial.
Can a person have another disorder in addition to depression?
Yes! Often people struggling with depression will find themselves also struggling with an anxiety disorder (i.e., obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder), alcohol or drug abuse or addictions. This is called co-morbidity.
How many adults does depression impact?
According to the most recent data (2008) collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), depression is experienced by about 6.4%1 of the adult population (USA) each year and by about 16.5%2 of the adult population at some point in their lifetime. It also occurs more often for people between the ages of 18-49 years3 and tends to impact women almost twice as much than men3.
How Many Kids or Teens Does Depression Impact?
About 3.3% of 13 to 18 year olds (USA) have suffered from severe depression and about 11.2% of 13 to 18 year olds have experienced dysthymia or major depression at some point in their lives5. If left untreated, then childhood depression often continues or recurs in adulthood4.
Please Know, Things Can Get MUCH Better!
Fortunately, you don’t have to continue suffering and feeling the pain of depression. Through treatment, I can help you to:
Learn how to “unlearn” your negative thoughts.
Learn how to combat your self-defeating beliefs.
Learn how to end the pain in your life without having to end your life.
Learn how to begin living “life” again.
Questions and Answers
How do I know this will work? Why bother?
We understand the doubt you are experiencing and the concern you may have about whether counselling will be worth the emotional, financial, and time investments that will be required from you. Many people are concerned about these and they arrive for their initial session with similar worries and fear that counselling won’t actually be effective, or that it will be embarrassing, stressful, or shameful.
In our experience, however, counselling does work and many of our clients leave stating they were glad they came, even though they were doubtful or nervous before they arrived. We have many clients stating that after they began treatment, they were finally able to experience some sense of calm and hope again and even reconnect with an old part of themselves that they thought they had lost.
We have personally seen people walk into our office convinced that their lives will never improve, and then watch them regain hope and learn the skills needed to begin living life more fully and with less pain (This is why we love our jobs!). This did not always mean that their “problems” went away, but rather, they learned a new way to perceive and respond to their “problems;” which allowed them to experience their “problems” differently and no longer be overburdened by them.
How would you know what it’s like to be a client?
On both a professional and a personal level, the PsychSolutions team strongly believes that therapists need to “earn” their way into the chair of the therapist, not only by obtaining the required education and licensure, but also by obtaining their own therapy and sitting in the chair of a client.
We cannot pretend that we have experienced everything you have or that we can personally relate to what you are going through. In spite of that, however, we do know what it feels like to be a client, what it feels like to have to face some difficult hard truths, what it feels like to have to stretch ourselves to learn new skills, and what it feels like to grow from these supported experiences and to become more at ease with our lives and who we are.
From our personal experience of receiving therapy and from our professional experience in providing therapy, we know that therapy can and does work.
I’ve heard that depression is genetic. What if it’s in my genes and my family history says that I’m doomed to be depressed?
Yes, family history is one of the risk factors associated with depression. However, two newer areas of research provide new insights into how our brains can change and evolve, and thus not be doomed to function how our genes would predict.
These two areas of research are:
Epigenetics - Epigenetics is a fancy sounding and somewhat intimidating word, but it basically just refers to a line of research that looks at how our experiences can shape or alter how our genes are expressed (aka: their phenotypes).
In everyday language, what this means is that through epigenetics, we now know that we can change how our genes are expressed (not the DNA code itself, but how the genes are ‘expressed’) by changing our lifestyles, habits, diet, daily activities, and thought patterns.
This may seem like a tall order, but think about it. If you can learn how to change your thoughts, which will lead to you changing your behaviors, then you don’t HAVE to end up like your _____________ (pick the name of any family member(s) that you know who struggled in life.
Neuroplasticity - Through research on neuroplasticity, we now know that the brain continues to develop and create neural pathways and connections throughout our lifespan. Like epigenetics, neuroplasticity has also taught us that by changing our lifestyles and thought patterns, by focusing our attention and energy on things that benefit us and improve our health, we can change how our brain’s neural pathways are organized and thus, how our brain functions.
As you learn new tools for handling the stressors of life and for relating to these experiences differently, and then begin to practice these new tools, your brain will begin to develop new neural pathways and new neural connections; thus changing your brain and getting it to work in new and more beneficial ways. With time and practice, you can begin to create a new you, a new way of being and experiencing life. By practicing new skills, you can change how your brain functions, which can change how you live and experience life. Our brain is shaped by our environment and our actions.
Although this may at first appear scary, this knowledge can actually be quite empowering. By changing our environment (or how we relate or experience it) and our actions, we can begin to change how our brain functions. We can begin to create new pathways, pathways that can become more accessible and “automatic,” and use these to replace our old pathways or our old way of being and experiencing life.
There is so much more potential than what researchers originally believed about the brain. With the right tools, this potential can be harnessed and used to your advantage.
[If the topic of neuroplasticity interests you, you can read a book by Dr. Doidge, a Canadian psychiatrist, called “The brain the changes itself” (2007).
These two new areas of research are very empowering. They provide scientifically-based hope that by learning the right skills and tools, we can improve our state of mind, our health, and our life satisfaction. Even if right now, you FEEL like there is no hope, the research, the science, would state otherwise. There is hope! There is the possibility for you to learn how to feel better and to be better.
What if there is no hope for me? What if the only way to end the pain is through suicide?
Often, when people are asking this question, it’s because they can no longer see any other viable options to end their pain. It is as though their perspective, their ability to see “the bigger picture” has slowly closed in on them, like a paper rolling up into a small tunnel, and the only solution now visible to them is at the end of the tunnel…suicide!
It’s not that other viable solutions are no longer available or possible, however, but the depression and perspective have closed in to the point that the person now only has what I call “tunnel vision.”
They can only see down to the end of the tunnel. They can no longer see all the options that are surrounding the outside of that tunnel and which are out of their tunnel vision viewpoint.
Ask yourself a very serious question. Let your heart speak without letting your head and all its objections get in the way.
Here is the question:
Do you really want to be six-feet under or do you just want the pain gone?
Pause…and seriously think about this question...
If the pain could lessen or even go away, if you had the tools to do this and the support you needed, would suicide still be a consideration for you? Do you really want to be dead or do you just want the pain to end?
Many of the clients we have worked with have stated that suicide only became an option for them when they could no longer see any other way of ending the pain.
We have supported clients out of this dark place and back into living life again and we can also help you. Although we cannot end the pain you are experiencing immediately, we can teach you the tools that will help you to begin easing this pain and move towards living your life.
We cannot give you a magic pill to end the pain, but we can teach you the skills.
How do I know if the PsychSolutions team has the right therapist for me?
This can be hard to know until you have have actually met with one of our team members. Begin by reading the background information on our current team members (under the Clinician tab). Then read some more of the content and articles we have on the website and view some of the videos we currently have available. This will give you a good idea about how we work and our style. Saying that, however, you won’t know for 100% until you meet your therapist in person. Once you meet, it will be easier for you to tell if you will be a good match for each other. If you are not a good match for each other, then we can help you to connect with a different team member, colleague, or a community resource that may be a better match for you.
Call to book an appointment or a free consultation!
If you have any further questions or would like to know more about how we can help you feel better, then please call (780-710-9567) or email
Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27.
Kessler RC, Berglund PA, Demler O, Jin R, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;62(6):593-602.
Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Koretz D, Merikangas KR, Rush AJ, Walters, EE, Wang PS. The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003 Jun;289(23):3095-3105.
National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses. Health and Education, Mental Health Information, Depression. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
Merkikangas, KR, He J, Burstein M, Swanson SA, Avenevoli S, Cui L, Benjet C, Georgiades K, Swendsen J. Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;49(10):980-989.
Are you finding it increasingly difficult to listen to people telling you that you have nothing to worry about so just “keep your chin up and be happy?”
Has it gotten painful enough that you have even considered suicide or have been thinking that you would be better off dead?
If you have answered YES
to one or more of the above questions,
then you may be suffering from depression.