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“Depression is nourished by a lifetime of ungrieved
and unforgiven hurts.”
~Penelope Sweet

Depression and Anxiety Counseling

Depression & Anxiety


It’s normal to be sad from to time to time, but if you feel unmotivated or hopeless, are experiencing sleep deprivation or changes in appetite, or are having recurrent thoughts of death, you may be developing some form of depression, or symptoms of it. If so, you are not alone; nearly 18 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness. Depression can devastate all areas of your everyday life, including work, school, family relationships and friendships. You may experience a loss of interest in the activities you once enjoyed like going out to dinner, playing with your children or participating in extracurricular activities. When you are depressed, even basic daily activities seem bothersome or too hard.

Depression treatment can be possible via professionals in the mental health field. The physiological and psychological effects of depression are caused by the way the brain processes certain chemicals. Some types of depression, such as bipolar disorder, tend to run in families. However, having a family member with a severe form of depression does not necessarily mean you will develop it as well. On the other hand, depression can and does strike those in families with no previous history of it. A variety of outside factors, including a major illness or loss of a loved one, difficult relationships or living situations, financial pressures, or job stress can trigger depression. Attitudinal proclivities such as low self esteem, chronic pessimism and anxiety also can contribute to depression. Depression can even result from poor diet, food allergies, insomnia, or lack of exercise. Many people cannot accept that they may suffer from depression. Most try to shake off the depression symptoms and tend to not seek treatment because they are ashamed. Denial only makes depression worse.

Take one small step to be happy again: Seek treatment from a therapist before depression really hurts you and your family.

Common Depression Types

Major depression can dramatically disrupt your ability to work, eat, sleep, study and maintain healthy relationships. People who are severally depressed tend to not want to participate in the pleasurable activities they once enjoyed. Dysthymia is a non-disabling, chronic depression that keeps one from functioning well or from feeling good. It has many of the same symptoms as major depression, but may not be as severe. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depressive mood disorder that scientists have determined is related to seasonal variations of light and is most prevalent in the winter months. Those with SAD often benefit from increased exposure to artificial light or sunlight.

Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic depressive illness and is not as common as other forms of depression. It is characterized by either dramatic or gradually cycling mood changes. Those with bipolar disorder experience severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). While in the depressed phase, one can have any or all of the symptoms of major depression. The manic phase affects judgment, rational thinking, and acceptable social behavior. Postpartum Depression is thought to be triggered by hormonal shifts and/or lifestyle changes, and can occur at any time after giving birth. While some level of tiredness, trouble concentrating, and anxiety is to be expected after giving birth, postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks and has some or most of the symptoms of major depression.

Signs and symptoms of clinical depression

  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Feeling of hopelessness and unworthiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Overwhelming feeling of sadness and grief
  • Increased irritability and anger
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Help For Depression - Things You Can Do

Get Help: Your first step should be to see your primary care physician for a depression screening test and to rule out other possible physical problems. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions designed to assess if you are clinically depressed. If it is determined that you do have clinical depression, your doctor will prescribe anti-depressant medication.

You also should ask your doctor for a referral or authorization to find and see a licensed therapist. According to recent studies, a combination of therapy and medication is the most effective way to combat depression.

Keep Trying: Sometimes, you’ll have to try two or three medications-- and perhaps see more than one therapist--over a period of several months to find the combination that will work best for you. The important thing is that you keep trying.

Take Care of Yourself: It’s essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get regular exercise and sufficient sleep. Excessive consumption of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco all impact your brain’s ability to work properly. It’s also important to take care of your emotional and spiritual well-being. Learn to identify and properly express your feelings so that you don’t become emotionally overwhelmed. Friends and family can provide a helpful support system.

Develop a Purpose: Cultivate positive values and formulate a purpose in life that will guide you in making decisions and provide you with a sense of direction. Having attainable goals and knowing what steps to take to achieve them will enable you to see your life as having meaning.


No wonder we’re anxious these days. Stories of disasters, terrorism, and psychopaths flood the nightly news. Add these to normal life issues, illness, financial stress, and family troubles, and the triggers for anxiety and panic attacks abound. Anxiety is a continuous stream of negative thoughts that circulate in your mind. Because it’s not focused on solving problems, worry drains and wastes your energy and scatters your thinking. However, if you can channel that mental energy to do something productive, solve a problem or make a decision, you’ll feel less anxious.

Mental health professionals can assist you during strenous times. Letting go and not trying to control everything at once can make many situations easier to manage. Rather than fight what's going on, or try to run from problems, make a decision, and learn from it. You’ll actually gain more real control by letting go of obsessive worry and focusing on what you can do. Letting go in this way is an internal, private process. You don’t need to let anyone else know you’re doing it. Use the suggestions below to take charge of your negative thoughts (one thing that is within your control) and turn them around. You’ll be happier when you let go of the things you can't control, such as other people, life's events, loss and disappointment.To stop negative thinking, do a reality check.

Are you frightening yourself with imagined worse-case scenarios? Instead of worrying about the past or the future, focus on what's true now. Stick to the facts, and tell the truth to yourself, the whole truth, not just the negative parts. To face reality, and overcoming anxiety, you must allow yourself to feel your feelings. Denying the truth is a way to avoid your feelings; however, when you accept the truth and your feelings about it, you will feel less anxious.

Common types of anxiety

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The most common form of anxiety. It includes excessive worrying about daily life including health, money and family.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: A constant fear of being criticized and judged by others.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD): Being exposed to a traumatic life experience, such as a death in the family, sexual or physical assault, or witnessing a crime.
  • Panic Attacks: Strong emotional and physical reactions that occur even though there is no apparent threat.
  • Panic Disorder: Feeling like you are losing control for no apparent reason and a feeling of not being able to escape or get help.

Signs & symptoms of anxiety

  • Fearfulness
  • Panic
  • Obsession
  • Compulsion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Breaking out in a sweat, feeling cold and clammy
  • Headaches, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • A tendency to be overly cautious

Treating Anxiety - You Can Do This

Follow these steps to help lessen your worry and anxiety:

  • Learn to recognize the signs of your own anxiety.If you can't sleep, or you worry a lot or obsess about negative possibilities, or you're unusually irritable or needy, you are probably anxious, and you need to learn how manage your thoughts.
  • Give yourself a chance to express your fear. When you're facing loss, problems, or unwanted changes you can’t control, you will have some resistance and objections. Grant yourself time to complain and be unhappy about the situation. Express as many of the negative feelings and thoughts as possible, either verbally or on paper. However, if your fear is overwhelming, and you are having debilitating anxiety attacks, then a therapist can help you with this part.
  • List and evaluate your fears. Make a list of your fears and think about them constructively. Is there anything that you can do about your fears? Have
    you made all the choices you can? Are you thinking clearly about the problem? Are you angry at anyone specifically? Are you resisting unnecessarily? If you have a choice, do you still want to change things? If you don't have a choice, can you see some alternatives? Do your options look different to you now?
  • Discuss the problem with yourself as constructively as you would with another friend. Brainstorm for ideas, realistic or even silly, about what you could do to make things better.
  • Review and decide. Once you've expressed your anger and disappointment, evaluated your feelings, brainstormed ideas and checked the facts, you will feel much more in charge of yourself and your situation. Review what you've discovered and make some decisions.
  • Sell yourself on a positive outcome. Think of all the possible positive outcomes of the changes you're making and what a valuable lesson you will learn.

Article from with content credit to: M. K. Doc Downing, Ph.D., LMFT and Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.