Depression is a complex mood disorder that manifests as a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It may negatively impact your thoughts and emotions and even impair your ability to engage in the basic functions of life.
But the good news is that depression is a highly treatable disorder that mental health professionals can help you manage through depression counselling.
Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age or sex. However, it is most commonly seen in adulthood.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression encompasses a wide range of symptoms that may vary in severity and duration. This section delves into the common signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of depression.
How Is Depression Different from Sadness?
Depression differs from sadness in several ways. Firstly, sadness is a natural, temporary emotional response to distressing events or situations. It usually subsides as one adapts to the circumstances or as time passes.
Depression, however, is a chronic condition that can occasionally appear, stay for a long time, or last a lifetime if left untreated.
It often requires professional help, such as depression counselling, to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Evidently, one major difference between depression and sadness is the duration and intensity of the emotions experienced. While sadness is typically short-lived, depression persists for an extended period, often several weeks or more.
In addition, the feelings associated with depression are generally more intense and overwhelming than those experienced during periods of sadness.
Another distinction is the impact of these emotions on daily functioning. Sadness may temporarily affect mood, but it rarely hinders the ability to perform everyday tasks and responsibilities.
On the other hand, depression can severely impair an individual’s ability to work, maintain relationships, and engage in social activities.
Additionally, major life incidents, past trauma, or co-morbidity with other mental illnesses can also cause depression.
Types of Depression
1. Major Depressive Disorder
MDD is a mental health condition characterised by persistent sadness, distress, and a lack of interest in activities.
Those suffering from MDD may benefit from online counselling for depression to help manage their symptoms. Key symptoms of MDD include a significant change in weight or appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, and persistent fatigue.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder
PDD, previously known as dysthymia, is a chronic form of depression lasting at least two years. Individuals with PDD often experience a consistently low mood, making it challenging to function daily.
The primary symptom of PDD is a long-lasting depressed mood accompanied by low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and indecisiveness.
3. Bipolar Disorder
This is a mental health disorder that causes extreme fluctuations in moods. This disorder involves cycling between two distinct mood states: depression and mania.
Similar to other depression disorders, a depressive state is a low mood where a person may feel sad and hopeless and lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.
Symptoms can also include changes in appetite and sleep, low energy levels, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Mania is the opposite extreme of depression, where a person may experience high levels of energy, feel extremely happy or irritable, have racing thoughts, and engage in impulsive or risky behaviours.
They may also have a reduced need for sleep and exhibit grandiosity or delusions of grandeur.
Grandiosity or delusions of grandeur refer to an exaggerated sense of self-importance, power, or abilities that a person may have.
This can lead to a person believing that they are superior to others or capable of achieving things beyond their abilities.
For example, someone with grandiosity may believe that they are a genius, even if they have average intelligence, or may think that they have special abilities, such as reading minds or communicating with the dead.
These beliefs can be harmful, leading to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when the person realises they cannot live up to their grandiose ideas.
People with bipolar disorder may benefit from appropriate treatment, including online counselling for depression.
4. Postpartum Depression
PPD is a subset of depression that affects new mothers, typically within the first year after childbirth. PPD can significantly impact the mother’s ability to care for herself and her child, making depression counselling a vital resource.
Symptoms of PPD can vary but may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. In addition, it can also affect changes in appetite, sleep, and energy levels.
Some people may also experience anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. In severe cases, PPD can lead to thoughts of harming oneself or one’s baby.
PPD is caused by a combination of physical, emotional, and hormonal factors. Therefore, it is essential to seek treatment if you or somebody you know has symptoms of PPD.
This disorder can be effectively treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
5. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
6. Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is also a subset of depression that occurs during specific seasons, most commonly during winter.
Research indicates that the reason may be related to reduced sunlight exposure during these periods.
SAD symptoms include social withdrawal, a craving for carbohydrates, and a tendency to oversleep.
7. Atypical Depression
This is a subtype of depression characterised by a temporary improvement in mood in response to positive events.
This type of depression can be challenging to diagnose due to its unique symptoms.
However, key indicators of atypical depression are increased appetite or weight gain, excessive sleeping, and a heavy, leaden feeling in the arms and legs.
Myths and Facts About Depression
Depression is a widespread condition that affects millions of people globally. However, its prevalence does not shield it from misconceptions perpetuating stigma.
In this section, let’s look at some of the most common myths about depression.
Depression is just feeling sad.
Depression encompasses many emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioural symptoms, extending beyond mere sadness.
Depression indicates personal weakness.
Depression isn’t a character flaw or weakness but a complex interplay of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.
One can simply “snap out” of depression.
Depression isn’t something to overcome with sheer willpower. It often requires professional support like depression counselling in Singapore.
Depression is solely due to traumatic events.
While stressors can trigger depression, they can also occur without an identifiable external cause.
Depression is inevitable if it runs in the family.
A family history of depression increases risk but does not guarantee its onset.
Depression isn’t a real illness.
Depression is a legitimate medical condition recognised and diagnosed based on a specific set of symptoms.
People with depression are always visibly sad.
Depression manifests differently in everyone. Some may hide their symptoms, seeming fine outwardly.
Counselling is a therapeutic method that aims to identify and address the root causes and contributing factors of depression.
Trained therapists work with individuals to develop coping strategies and provide tools for managing their symptoms.
Online counselling for depression offers the added convenience of accessing therapy remotely, allowing people to receive support without travelling to a therapist’s office.
Benefits of Depression Counselling
Before starting therapy, many people wonder, “How effective is counselling for depression?” It is a valid thought and stems from a genuine curiosity about therapy and mental health.
Counselling is generally effective for depression. It employs a range of therapeutic approaches to help individuals identify and manage their emotional and behavioural patterns.
However, it can help to remember that the efficacy of counselling for depression can vary depending on individual needs and the therapeutic approach utilised.
Counselling can help with the following:
Techniques and Interventions for Depression
These are some of the treatments used for treating depression:
Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on recognising and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with depression. For example, a CBT therapist might help a client recognise a pattern of negative self-talk and develop healthier coping strategies.
Antidepressant medication: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a commonly prescribed type of antidepressant medication. They work by boosting the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood, in the brain. For instance, fluoxetine (Prozac) is an SSRI that helps alleviate depressive symptoms by blocking serotonin reuptake, thereby increasing its availability in the brain.
Mindfulness and meditation: Practising mindfulness and meditation can help individuals with depression develop a greater awareness of their thoughts and emotions, allowing them to respond more adaptively. For instance, your therapist may recommend a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programme involving guided meditation and body awareness exercises. This technique can cultivate non-judgmental awareness of your emotions.
Alternative treatments: Some people may find relief from depression through alternative or complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or herbal supplements. For instance, in an acupuncture treatment, fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body. By doing so, it stimulates the release of endorphins and relaxes the body and mind.
Support groups: Participating in support groups can provide a safe environment for people with depression to share their experiences, learn coping strategies, and receive encouragement from others who understand their struggles.
What Do Therapists Do During Counselling?
During the first session, the therapist creates a safe and supportive environment for the client to open up about their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. This initial appointment is essential for establishing rapport and trust between the therapist and the client.
The therapist will gather information about the client’s history, symptoms, and any potential contributing factors to their depression. This information assists the therapist in understanding the client’s unique needs and developing a tailored treatment plan.
In subsequent sessions, the therapist will introduce specific therapeutic techniques to help clients address their depressive symptoms.
However, they will adjust and refine the chosen methods based on individual progress and feedback. This ongoing process of adapting the therapy ensures that it remains effective and relevant to personal needs.
Throughout the counselling process, they may also recommend supplementary resources or support, such as support groups or self-help materials, to help clients manage their depression more effectively outside of the therapy sessions.
For example, if you prefer socialising with people who have similar experiences, the therapist might recommend group therapy or activities focusing on your emotional needs.
Typically, the duration and number of sessions may vary based on how much help you need and the severity of your depression.
However, on average, depression counselling may consist of 10 to 20 sessions, each lasting 50 minutes to an hour.
Counselling vs Psychotherapy
They share similarities in their purpose and approach, yet they possess distinct characteristics that differentiate them.
Depression counselling is a form of counselling specifically tailored to assist those struggling with depression. It is typically a short-term intervention, focusing on immediate concerns and providing emotional support.
In this process, the therapist helps clients identify specific issues and develop coping strategies to manage their depression.
On the other hand, psychotherapy is a more in-depth, long-term process that addresses underlying psychological patterns and deep-rooted issues.
Psychotherapists work with clients to uncover the origins of their emotional distress and explore the connections between past experiences and present behaviour.
This process facilitates personal growth, self-awareness and provides the tools to develop healthier emotional responses.
Most importantly, the primary difference between counselling and psychotherapy lies in their scope and depth.
While both modalities can effectively treat depression, the choice between counselling and psychotherapy depends on the individual’s needs, goals, and preferences.
If you decide to start therapy for depression, you will have the space and opportunity to talk about your needs with your counsellor.
Then, you and your counsellor will discuss and devise the best treatment approach to meet your unique situation.
How to Find a Counsellor for Depression?
One of the most crucial steps in receiving depression counselling is finding a suitable counsellor who can provide the necessary support and guidance.
When searching for counselling for depression near you, try to gather recommendations from various sources to find the best possible match.
Primary care physicians can be an excellent starting point, as they often have a network of mental health experts to whom they can refer their patients for specialised care.
In addition, they can assess your needs and recommend a counsellor experienced in depression.
In addition, you can also turn to friends, family, or colleagues who may have had similar experiences. They can provide valuable insights into their experiences with counsellors and make suggestions based on their outcomes.
Finally, do not hesitate to seek recommendations from other professionals in the field, such as psychologists or social workers. They can often provide referrals to qualified counsellors who specialise in depression.
You can also do your own research by reading up the profiles of the therapists you are keen to work with.
For example, you can find out more about their specialisations, expertise, educational backgrounds, qualifications, and any other information you find relevant.
Remember that finding the right counsellor may take time and effort, but it plays a crucial role in your journey towards healing and peace.
Online Counselling for Depression: How Effective Is It?
With the advent of modern technology, mental health professionals can now offer support and guidance remotely, making online counselling for depression a convenient and accessible option for many.
Counselling conducted online can be just as beneficial as traditional in-person therapy. It provides a secure and confidential platform for you to discuss your feelings, emotions, and concerns with a qualified therapist.
Virtual environments can benefit those who are hesitant or uncomfortable seeking in-person help. Moreover, online counselling allows you to access specialised therapists who may not be available in your local area.
In conclusion, healing often takes time, and progress may not always be linear for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, as each person experiences depression differently.
Know the signs.
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