by: Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych.
Depression can bring about debilitating symptoms, both of a physical and emotional nature. Depressed individuals typically find themselves experiencing hopeless feelings, disruptions to sleep and eating patterns, a loss of pleasure in everyday life, and possibly thoughts about suicide or death. Often individuals who are depressed have physical symptoms, including aches and pains.
Finding a path toward recovery can be challenging, but the good news is depression is treatable; recent research indicates that psychotherapy is extremely important in your recovery from depression.
When depressed, we can become bombarded by an internal chorus of negative thoughts and feelings about our selves other people, and the world around us. We can be overly self-critical of our selves and others, or may find ourselves struggling to come to terms with deep feelings of loss. At these times, it can be difficult to imagine a way to restore our vitality, hope, and optimism for life. When the severity of your symptoms seriously disrupts your capacity to function at home, work, or school, consider consulting with a psychologist immediately.
Negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others: Healing requires us to try to make sense of and deal with the distressing negative thoughts, feelings, and emotional responses that lie at the root of our depression. Depression is often linked to negative thoughts and feelings we hold about ourselves, of other people, and of the world around us. The origins of these thoughts and feelings can extend back into our childhoods and onward to the present day. These negative thoughts can create a sense of hopelessness about our selves and the world around us. A negative, critical voice and overly rigid standards and ideals can also be at the root of your depression.
We all have standards and ideals that we internalize from childhood onward about how we should be. These standards and ideals create expectations about our own and other people’s behaviour and guide us in terms of how we ‘should,’ ‘ought to,’ or ‘must’ think, feel, and behave. Some of us will rigidly hold onto and strive to live according to unrealistic standards and ideals, and be unrelenting in our efforts to have ourselves and others live up to them. Rigidly held standards and ideals can fuel harsh self-criticism and perfectionism. Indeed, research affirms that self-criticism and perfectionism often contribute to symptoms of depression.
Unexpressed emotions and needs: For some individuals, unprocessed emotions and unattended needs can result in depression. Depression is, therefore, a signal calling for us to listen to what our feelings are telling us about our selves, other people, and the world around us. Emotions provide us with important information. Being able to identify, label, and express these feelings in words is important for us to understand what our concerns are and to identify the unmet goals or needs that are at the root of the depressed feelings we are experiencing.
Other causes: Depression may also result from multiple other physical and psychological causes, or as a result of substance abuse. A thorough assessment by your physician and a psychologist provides the best opportunity to determine your best treatment options.
Some individuals struggle with varying moods. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder struggle with mood variation, including periods of experiencing unusually or somewhat elated moments or ‘highs’, followed by periods of ‘lows’ or depressed periods. During manic periods, individuals with bipolar disorder may engage in risky behaviours leading to financial or legal difficulties. Being aware of triggers or signs of an impending mood episode, developing strategies involving partners, addressing difficult thoughts, creating a more balanced world, and accessing support to adhere to treatment regimens, are all significant components of managing bipolar disorder.
The Depression, Mood & Grief Service at CFIR offers clients counselling and psychotherapy to support them to address depression, mood, and past and present grief and loss. We offer children, adolescents, adults, and couples psychological assessment and treatment of depression and other mood disorders. We provide a comprehensive psychological assessment of your depression and/or mood difficulties, including the use of psychological tests for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment planning. There are different causes of mood disorders, and different types of depression and bipolar conditions. Psychologists are skilled in assessing, diagnosing, and subsequently developing a tailored treatment plan to address the specific issues associated with your current depression and/or mood difficulties. We employ scientific, evidence-based treatments, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Emotion-Focused, Mindfulness, Psychodynamic-Mentalization-Attachment based therapies to help you overcome your symptoms and make deeper changes to your self.
Read more about our Depression, Mood & Grief Treatment Service.