Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Qualified Clinical Supervisor. She received her PhD in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Florida in 2002. In addition to being a practicing clinician, she has provided training to counselors, social workers, nurses and case managers internationally since 2006 through AllCEUs.com
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Depression – What is It?
Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects your mood, making you feel low and affecting your daily activities. It is a common illness that is treatable and can be managed well. Depression can be treated by talking therapies, self-help and medication. Depression is easier to treat the earlier you get help. You can also get help from family and friends, and community support groups.
Depression can affect all parts of your life, including work and relationships. It can cause problems with eating and sleeping, and make you less active and energetic. You might withdraw from friends and social activities and spend more time at home.
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. They can include sadness and worthlessness, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, a lack of energy or difficulty thinking or problem-solving. Some people have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Others experience physical symptoms, such as a fast heartbeat, tight chest or persistent headaches. Depression can also trigger a variety of illnesses and conditions, such as thyroid problems, menopause and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, get help immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor. Or, go to the nearest hospital emergency department. If you are hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988 and ask for a suicide prevention hotline.
Treatment for depression focuses on the symptoms you have and how severe they are. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you learn to identify and change unhelpful emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It can also teach you new coping skills. There are many different types of psychological therapy for depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Medication can help change the brain chemistry that causes depression. There are several different kinds of antidepressants. Some take a while to start working. They may have side effects that improve over time, or you might need to switch to another type of medication.
A combination of treatments is usually needed for most people. Self-help techniques can be very useful, and you should try to stick with your treatment plan. This will help you recover and reduce your chances of having a relapse.
It is important that your family and friends are involved in your treatment. This can be especially helpful for children with depression. The therapist can teach parents how to support their child and help them practice new skills at home. It’s also very important that kids who take medicine for depression work closely with their doctor, to make sure they are getting the right dosage and avoiding any side effects. If you don’t feel better after trying treatment for a few months, talk to your doctor. They can check your progress and recommend any other treatments that might be helpful. They will also want to see you regularly. This will make it more likely that you will stick with your treatment plan and find the best way to manage your depression.