Anxiety and depression are two of the most common forms of mental and emotional distress, and they often go hand in hand. Both anxiety and depression can be debilitating, causing significant loss of daily functioning. Anxiety and depression are also commonly found in conjunction with alcohol or drug misuse or abuse, as those who suffer seek to relieve their depressive or anxious symptoms.
To determine if you may be struggling with clinical depression some of the questions you may ask yourself are:
- Am I regularly getting a poor night's sleep consisting of less than three uninterruped hours at a time?
- Have I lost interest in activities which I used to enjoy?
- Do I feel guilty about one thing or another much of the time?
- Do I experience a significant lack of energy in the present compared to other times in my life?
- Do I frequently experience confusion in my thinking?
- Do have have an ongoing loss of appetite , or do I overeat regularly? Are these patterns different from other times in my life?
- Am I restless and feeling agitated much of the time?
- Do I experience thoughts of suicide or a desire to end my life?
If you answer yes to several of these questions, you may be suffering from clinical depression. There is help available and great hope for you, but it is essential for you to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Clinical depression often results in the body's inability to manufacture natural chemicals necessary for mental, emotional and physical well being. This can be the result of genetic makeup, trauma, or at times ongoing severe stress. Clinical depression is a serious illness and needs to be treated by a mental health professional often working in collaboration with a primary care physician or psychiatrist.
When clinical depression is diagnosed, a 'three pronged' initial approach is often found to be the most beneficial.
- Physical: Diet and exercise play an important part in recovery from depression. If warranted, appropriate medication prescribed by a qualified physician helps the body to manufacture and utilize the deficient chemicals it needs to function.
- Mental and Emotional: The source of stress, trauma, or other life circumstances contributing to depression can be identified and explored in the therapeutic relationship, facilitating healing and/or behavioral changes. Distorted thought patterns can also be identified and explored in the therapeutic process.
- Spiritual: Approaching depression from a spiritual perspective invites one to surrender to God that which is unchangable, while increasing dependence upon Him for the will and determination to make necessary changes when possible. Utilizing the therapeutic relationship to understand that there is a God who loves us becomes a significant life line towards wholeness.
If you struggle with anxiety you are not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health ranks anxiety disorders as the most common mental health problem in the United States. There are several main types of anxiety disorders. These include: medically caused anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, specific and social phobias, and generalized anxiety disorders. To rule out possible medical causes of anxiety, a complete examination by a physcian is advised. Other types of anxiety can be sucessfully treated by a competent therapist, often working in collaboration with a primary care physician or psychiatrist. Contributors to causes of anxiety range from personality traits to childhood experiences and beliefs. In therapy these contributors will be assessed and a plan of treatment developed. At times medication is warranted, at which point a referral may be made to the appropriate medical doctor. Understanding your condition and the facts that explain why you feel the way you do, will in itself relieve some of the anxiety. As you learn to identify and work on such things as: the sources of anxiety; distorted thinking; the excessive need for approval; making anger your friend and ally; embracing the process of change; standing up for yourself; and eliminating self defeating behaviors, you may, over time, experience a reduction in anxiety and an improved quality of life. These changes may be successfully facilitated in the therapeutic realtionship.
Some of us have lived for such a long time with anxiety and depression that these maladies feel 'normal' even though we cannot claim a good quality of life. If you identify personally with any portion of the information on this page, it may be time to take a step of action. As a qualified therapist I will fully assess your condition, refer you to a medical doctor for medication assessment when appropriate, and develop an individualized treatment plan that over time provides hope and the ability to embrace a functional life.
I welcome your inquiries. For an appointment please contact:
Christine Livingston MA