Vulnerability Awareness and Tools to Address Them | Counselor Continuing Education

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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How to Cope With Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, loss of interest or hope and affects how you think and feel. It can make it hard for you to sleep, eat and function normally. It can also affect your relationships and cause you to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

How is depression diagnosed?

Depression is caused by a combination of factors that affect the brain. These include brain chemistry, genetics, stressors and medical conditions. Some medications can cause depression, as can drug or alcohol use.

How long does depression last?

Most people with depression experience some symptoms for several months or longer. These may include: feeling down all the time, trouble sleeping, eating too much or not at all, lack of energy, irritability, poor concentration, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, weight gain or loss, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide.

Some people with depression may not have any symptoms. However, if your symptoms are severe and interfere with daily activities, you should see a doctor.

Treatment of depression is usually a combination of medicines and counseling. Counseling teaches you how to cope with feelings and helps you develop healthy ways of thinking and feeling.

Psychotherapy is a type of counseling that teaches you how to change negative thoughts and behaviors. This can help you stop relapses and prevent future depression.

Therapy is often a blend of one-on-one or group sessions with a therapist, but you can choose to receive just one session per week. In individual therapy, you can build a stronger connection with the therapist and get individualized attention.

Symptoms of depression are more common in women than in men. They usually start during the menstrual cycle, and may get worse or appear more often after pregnancy.

Your symptoms will usually begin to improve within a few weeks of getting treatment. The length of the recovery process will depend on your health and how well your doctor treats you.

The exact causes of depression aren’t known, but it is thought to be related to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that control your mood and behavior. These chemicals include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

If you have a family history of depression, you’re more likely to develop it yourself. You are also more likely to get depressed if you have certain medical conditions, such as a chronic illness, or if you have a lot of stress in your life.

You can reduce your chances of developing depression by staying active and learning healthy lifestyle habits. This includes a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol and other drugs or substances that can cause or worsen your depression.

Talking to friends and family about your depression will help you get support. It can also help you understand your symptoms better and encourage you to seek treatment.

Your healthcare provider can help you decide if you need medication to treat your depression. They may prescribe antidepressants that increase the levels of certain chemical messengers in your brain.

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