Tampa Life Coach - Dr. John Arnaldi - The Intimacy Coach



Depression: Strategies for Hope and Healing

You Need to Know the Facts!

If either you or a loved-one has been depressed, you are not alone.

Fact #1 - Depression is a very common problem that affects millions of people and their families. One out of ten adult Americans currently suffer from depression (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC). Over the course of a lifetime, about 16 percent of Americans will experience depression.

I have lots of first-hand experience with depression. I know what it’s like to live with depression because I was depressed on and off through much of my adult life. I know the impact it has on families because I grew up in a family crippled with depression. Additionally, I have the perspective that comes from having helped hundreds of clients who were depressed. And I know the joys of living without depression!

Fact #2 - Depression is treatable! This is the single most important fact about depression! With the help of modern medications, life coaching, counseling, and life-style changes, depressed people can heal and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.

If you want to help yourself or a loved one recover, you must get past your own denial about depression. Well-intentioned advice, self-help books, and “band-aid” approaches won’t help and may only delay getting more effective help. Attempts to feel better by using over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, tranquilizers, or recreational drugs may cause more serious problems. Family and friends can be a big help, but first they must understand that depression is a serious illness that requires outside help—it won’t just go away by itself.

Ten symptoms of depression

Depression can be difficult to recognize and diagnose. The symptoms vary with each person, and not all may be present. It is possible that in some individuals chronic anger (irritation) may be the main symptom. Or they may just feel unmotivated or tired.

In order to get help for yourself or a loved one, it is important to recognize some of the common symptoms of depression. Regardless of which symptoms are present, it is important to get a medical evaluation by a physician because many medical illnesses can cause or contribute to these symptoms.

  • Depressed mood most of the time
    -OR- chronic dissatisfaction, irritation, anger, bitterness
  • Low energy, physical and mental tiredness or exhaustion
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment of normally pleasurable activities
  • Inability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Excessive guilt, shame, and/or self-criticism
  • Feelings of sadness, emotional emptiness, and/or hopelessness
  • Feelings of low self-esteem and/or worthlessness
  • Sleep problems: unable to sleep/rest well or wanting too much sleep
  • Appetite problems: either loss of appetite or overeating
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide

Understanding Depression

Fact #3 - Depression is a serious disease that involves all areas of a person’s life. It’s not just about your thinking or emotions. It's not just something happening in your brain—every part of your body and your life is involved. Therefore, treatments and strategies that only address one part of the person are not likely to be effective for long-term improvement. Recovery requires a holistic approach that deals with all areas of life: body, mind, spirit, and social interaction.

Fact #4 - Depression has a biological component. Depression is about lack of energy. Some of the chemicals that your brain needs to work properly are not there. It is not situational nor the result of “stinking thinking”. This means that getting a change of scenery, taking a nice vacation, working out in the gym, or buying new clothes, etc. are not likely to bring long-term relief. It also means that you can’t simply talk a depressed person into feeling better. It's not a matter of better problem-solving. With depression, the most immediate and effective way to get the chemicals your brain needs is to take the right medication.

Fact #5 - Depression has psycho-social components. Certain patterns of behavior and thinking can have a big impact on your ability to access and focus your energy, and can also waste vital energy. For example, worry and anger waste energy and don’t produce positive results—you are just spinning your wheels, which produces exhaustion and more discouragement. Learning to reduce stress and conflicts in relationships can help reduce the loss of energy. Healthy, loving relationships increase energy and pleasure, while destructive relationships drain energy and reduce pleasure.

Fact #6 - Depression comes with lots of shame. Shame and self-criticism are symptoms of depression that drain energy and motivation. When you feel deeply ashamed and/or worthless, it is hard to be around people or to ask for help. The greater your shame, the greater your disconnection from people. Isolation is a part of the problem, not part of the solution. Part of the solution is to connect with trustworthy people.

Fact #7 - Depression has spiritual components. Listen to yourself deeply—your desires, your emotions, your body, and your soul. Do this as a regular practice. All the answers are there! Listen with an open mind and heart—don't censor what you hear. Most of us are not good at this deeper listening and will need help to learn. Prayer and meditation can help.

How to Get Started

1. Get help—you can’t do it alone! So even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings and to ask for help, do it anyway! Start by seeing your doctor, psychiatrist, life coach and/or other mental health professional. Be honest about your symptoms and concerns. Your first contacts are just first steps—don't expect instant relief.

2. Be willing to take anti-depressant medication to help with the biochemical part of depression. If your doctor suggests an anti-depressant medication, take it! The right medication can be a big relief. Anti-depressants can help you think more clearly, rest better, regain your energy, relieve worrying, and feel better. With the correct medication and dose you won’t feel drugged or intoxicated, you will just begin feeling more normal.

If your symptoms have been intense or overwhelming, or if your current medication is not helping, it may be best to see a psychiatrist because they are the experts in treating depression with medication. You may need a different medication or dosage, or you may need more than one medication. Don’t give up if the first medication or dosage doesn’t help. And don’t give up if you have side effects—talk with your doctor/psychiatrist about them. There are lots of effective anti-depressant medications, so there is no reason to feel stuck with a medication that causes side effects.

3. A big part of healing from depression is learning about your energy. Energy comes from breath and movement—anything you do that gets your body moving and breathing more will help. Any mild, regular exercise will increase the brain chemicals you need for energy and pleasure.

4. Stress and conflicts drain your energy. Learning to reduce stress will help you decrease the excessive loss of energy. Life coaching or counseling can help you learn new ways of problem-solving, reducing stress, resolving conflicts, and communicating more effectively within relationships. Meditation can be a big help with clearing your mind so you feel refreshed.

5. Improving self-care is important for long-term recovery—anything you do to improve your physical health will help. Getting exercise and improving your diet are key parts of good self-care.

6. Respect your energy! Follow your energy—do more of what energizes you and less of what drains you.

7. Because depression impacts all areas of your life, you will need skilled help from multiple health care professionals, including such specialists as a life coach, counselor, psychotherapist, minister, physician, and/or psychiatrist. As a life coach with extensive experience working in the mental health field, I can help you succeed in your recovery. I can help you find and coordinate an effective team of professionals, learn the skills necessary for recovery, and fine-tune all treatment and recovery efforts.

Call me today and get on the road to recovery!

[PLEASE NOTE: This article offers helpful information, but it is not intended to diagnose or treat depression. Depression is a serious illness that requires appropriate diagnosis and treatment.]



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