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The Many Faces of Depression

Many people who have suffered from depression describe it as a dark cloud that hovers over them, clouding their capacity to feel joy, hope and live life to its fullest. How this cloud manifests itself can be as unique as the people who suffer from it. There are, however, some reoccurring “faces” to depression that can help us identify its presence and acknowledge when professional help is needed.

Here are some common faces of depression. Depression shows itself through a prolonged period of sadness or anxiety. It leaches interest or pleasure out of activities that would normally be enjoyable. Depression alters appetite and sleep patterns. It promotes feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. Depression interferes with the ability to make decisions to concentrate, to remember things, and to focus. It steadily strangles the will to act, sometimes producing a frantic and anxious state, or an apathetic lethargy. Depression may lead to recurrent thoughts of suicide and death.

In times past, depression was considered a weakness, suffered by weak people, as evidenced by the higher rate of depression among women. The chauvinistic, repressive attitude toward depression and its sufferers has been changing, allowing the depressed to come out from under the cloak of shame and to seek help for their illness.

At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we have found, with whole-person treatment, approximately 90 percent of our clients experience long-term recovery. Over the past 20 years of working with depression recovery, we have developed the keys to unlock the secrets of “why people get depressed.”

Clients come to our clinic with concerns about anxiety, hopelessness, and feelings of being overwhelmed or increasingly isolated. They do not use the term depression to explain their concerns. Either they are fearful of any lingering stigma, or they simply have been unable to place a label on their nameless dread. Some are at the point of suicide, without really knowing why they feel that taking their own life is the only way to end the pain.

Others come to our clinic with difficulties in relationships; they have become moody, irritable, isolated form loved ones, sometimes even abusive. Clients are concerned about their inability to concentrate at work, and they lack productivity that threatens their employment. Sometimes it is not the depressed person who makes contact with us; it is loved ones concerned about that person’s behavior. They are concerned about the withdrawal they see, or the risky, thrill-seeking behaviors some depressed people will use in an attempt to jolt themselves out of their depression.

If you are struggling with a dark cloud of depression, or you have observed warning signs of depression in the life of a loved one, seeking professional help may be the quickest, easiest, and safest way to find healing. The Center • A Place of HOPE was recently voted in the Top 10 depression treatment facilities in the United States because of our holistic and lasting approach to depression recovery. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE cares, and we can help. If you are ready to regain true joy and happiness in your life, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Evaluating Past and Present Relationships Contributing to Depression

Depression can come when we feel bound to repeat the negative patterns of our past. Through an honest evaluation of our past and present relationships, we come to understand who we are and what we bring to each of our relationships.

Often times, the greatest joys, but also the greatest insecurities, traumas, and scars can come from our own family. The intentions of adults in a family may not be to pass along negative responses to their children, yet through their own inability to control these responses, they set up negative patterns for their children to follow. As children follow these patterns, the negative perceptions that accompany them become grounded in their lives.

Without ever being told, children develop a working model for life based on the suspicion, insecurity, perfectionism, self-centeredness, frustration, or oppressive behavior of their parents. This model produces feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, all of which suffocate optimism, hope, and joy.

You may have a background where emotional abuse of this type, or worse, was evident in your family. It will not be difficult for you to pinpoint how these negative experiences have impacted your ability to balance yourself emotionally. Or, you may look back at your childhood and conclude your family can’t be a source of your depression because you didn’t have an abusive experience. Take time, however, to really examine the patterns you learned from your family.

This is not a search through your past to assign blame, but rather a mature look at the learned responses from your family to discover those that might be contributing to the strength and longevity of your depression. It is so important for you to be able to identify the burdens from past relationships that may be slowing down your rate of recovery. Once you discover these hindrances, you will be equipped to develop a plan for moving forward.

As you review past relationships, also take some time to examine your current relationships. Many times, our present relationships are a direct reflection of the quality and content of our past relationships. If our childhood experience was negative, we often choose to engage in similar relationships as adults.

Write down the significant people in your life today that are not included in the previous group of family, listing each person by name and relationship. Special people in your life need not be confined to family. They can be coworkers, friends, mentors, or acquaintances. How does each person relate to you? Is it in a positive or a negative way?  Does the present relationship mirror a past relationship?

Take time to reflect on the relationships in your life and how you engage with them. This process alone could reveal the reasons for your depression. While it is important to acknowledge the past and understand its effects on the present, it is also important to note that you have the opportunity to make positive changes for your future.

If you are struggling with depression and you are ready to change your life for good, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Recently voted in the Top 10 depression treatment facilities in the United States, The Center • A Place of HOPE not only helps ease the symptoms of depression, but seeks to heal its root cause. If you are ready to regain true joy and happiness in your life, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with a depression recovery specialist today.

 

Overcoming Depression Caused by Busyness

In today’s hectic, action-packed society, we often pride ourselves on our productivity and busyness. We fill each day with work, technology, errands, and activities that leave little room for much else. However, over time it’s possible for your productive and busy days to become unhinged from their original intent.

You might become so entrenched in your hectic routine that the activities begin to lose their meaning, and you feel like you are simply spinning your wheels each day without any true direction. You may begin to feel that your life is not making a difference or that what you are doing and how hard you are working is not moving you forward on the path you were hoping to take. Life seems busy and burdensome, yet without purpose. This outlook can be a major factor in environmental causes of depression.

If you are experiencing this empty feeling of depressed burnout, it may be time for you to reevaluate your routine and focus in life. While there may be a great many things in your daily routine that you cannot change, you may be surprised at how many things you can. One of the keys to overcoming depression is to honestly and realistically evaluate your life and then develop a plan to change those things that are in your control.

You may be reluctant to do this exercise for fear it will make you even more depressed. But the objective of taking stock is not to create an inventory of all the things that are wrong with your life. Rather, taking stock will help to categorize the changeable and unchangeable things in your life to intentionally move forward, out of depression and the doldrums of meaninglessness. Here are some simple steps to help you evaluate your routine.

  1. Reflect on your daily activities. Make a list of all of the things you do each day, leaving space after each item. Begin with the moment you wake up, and write down every event that takes place until you put your head on the pillow each night.
  2. Write down the reasons for engaging in each of these activities. Are they for you or for someone else? Are your reasons for engaging in each activity the same today as they were when you started? Have the reasons changed? Have you?
  3. Next to each reason, write down how this activity makes you feel. Do you look forward to each activity? Do you dread it? Does it bring you joy or anxiety?
  4. Determine if the activities are changeable. What would happen if you stopped doing that activity? Or did it less often? Are you responsible for the activity? Or is someone else?
  5. On a new sheet of paper, write down a list of dreams, goals and activities that bring you joy and make you feel truly fulfilled. Though a bit morbid, two strategies to help you discover this list is to write your ideal obituary or think of what you would choose to do if you only had 6 months left to live.
  6. Next to this list of fulfilling activities, write down what steps you would need to take to incorporate these activities into your daily life. What would that life look like? How would each day unfold?
  7. Finally, compare lists. What changes, even small ones at first, can you make today to your first list to bring you closer to a more fulfilling, joyful life?

Too often, we live our lives feeling like spectators instead of active participants with the power to choose our own course. We get swept up into the mindless hustle and bustle of each day, losing sight of what really gives our lives purpose and meaning. It’s as if we are on autopilot, but depression happens when our autopilot gets stuck in a hectic, negative descent. Unless we take intentional action, chances are that circumstances won’t force a change to the positive. If you are feeling uninspired, burned out, and depressed, it’s time to actively and intentionally participate in the course of your life.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.

 

Mastering Your Mood

One of the skills we teach clients is mood mastery, or how to choose their mood. All of us have a profusion of moods at our disposal at any given time. So often, we choose negative moods simply because we’ve formed a habit of submitting to their strong presence. We’ve allowed them to take shortcuts to the forefront of our moods.

Mood mastery is akin to choosing your attitude. Mood and attitude are linked; they are interrelated but separate. Mood is how we are feeling; attitude is how we respond to the mood. Choosing our attitude, our response to the mood, is one way we can actively achieve mastery over any mood. No matter what mood we initially experience, our attitude can either reinforce that mood or cause us to choose another.

Let’s be clear. Choosing a mood is not about reacting to an event or circumstance. Things happen and each of us will have a natural reaction, such as a surprise or anxiety, that may be similar to the way anyone else might react. It is what happens next that falls under the category of choosing our mood. After our initial reaction, we have the opportunity to review that reaction. Then, we can intentionally respond with a continuation of that reaction, or respond with one of our other mood choices.

Here’s a common, everyday example: We’re in our car on the way to work. Maybe we’re running a little big late. All of a sudden, the car next to us swerves into our lane, cutting us off. Our reaction is probably one of shock and surprise. It may even be anger. It’s upsetting when we feel endangered or surprised by the irresponsible action of another driver.

What happens next, however, is a choice. We can choose to take a deep breath and back off the bumper of that car, realizing it would probably be a good idea to give a little bit more room between that driver and ourselves. In other words, we can choose to respond intelligently.

We can also choose to respond angrily. An extreme example of this response has the name road rage. It begins when the actions, real or perceived, of another driver produces an angry, aggressive response. Even if it doesn’t go as far as road rage, we can still respond by using that event to fuel a bad mood. We can choose to react to that event by remaining angry about it long after the fact.

If an event such as getting cut off on the roadway can produce a day-ruining reaction, it’s not surprising that other, more serious or traumatic events can lead to a sustained bad mood lasting months or even years. Once people understand this concept, we work to support them in expanding the moods they choose from when responding to life.

Here are a few techniques to help you master your mood, regardless of what situation life presents to you:

  1. Practice Gratitude: When confronted with a challenging situation or just a “bad mood,” instead of dwelling on the negative situation, refocus to think about five things you are grateful for in your life. If you can think of a gratitude directly linked to the seemingly negative situation at hand, even better!
  2. Breathe Deeply: Before your emotions carry you away, stop and take ten, slow deep breaths. This will send oxygen throughout your body, physically calming you and putting you in a better state to deal with the situation positively.
  3. Get Active: As you probably know, exercise can be a great, natural mood booster, triggering the release of mood-boosting endorphins.
  4. Go Outside: Nature has an amazing affect on our mood, vitality, and overall health. Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to boost your serotonin levels and improve your mood.
  5. Help Someone: Sometimes the best thing to do when you are feeling upset, angry, or down is to do something for someone else. Find an opportunity to give of yourself, even in a small way, to help someone. Whether it is opening the door, buying someone a coffee, or paying someone a compliment, these small acts of kindness can sometimes have a greater affect on the giver than the receiver.
  6. Smile: Even if you have to fake a smile at first, try it anyways!

A good mood allows you to experience life in its fullest. But sometimes a good mood doesn’t come naturally, while unconstructive moods do. To overcome bad moods and negative thought patterns, you must turn the flow of this negative tide and strive, even if it seems like you’re paddling against a strong current, to promote optimism, hope, and joy. Once you begin putting good energy out into the world, you’ll be amazed what you’ll get in return!

The Center • A Place of HOPE has been consistently ranked among the top treatment facilities in the country for depression. If you or a loved on are struggling to overcome negative feelings and depression, call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 to talk with our team of specialists.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.

 

Is Social Media Making You Depressed?

In today’s tech intensive world, we invest increasing amounts of ourselves online—our time, our energy, our identities. But for all of the time and effort we put into our virtual lives, how much does is really add to our happiness and overall fulfillment? Is it possible that our social networking can be contributing to our feelings of depression?

In Dr. Jantz’s book, #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology, and Social Networking, he cites a study of “disconnect anxiety.” In it, participants described the following feelings when unable to connect via Internet, email, social networks, texting, chat and other online activities:

  • Feeling lost
  • Having only half a voice
  • Disoriented
  • Tense
  • Empty
  • Inadequate
  • Loss of freedom

Paradoxically, we also suffer anxiety when we are connected. Maybe we’re overwhelmed with a multitude of social networks we’re intent on updating on a daily basis. Or maybe we’re suffering from information overload, struggling to stay on top of every development, from world news to the latest from our Facebook friends’ news stream.

In other words, at any given moment throughout your day, the desire to connect online may be a source of anxiety. Even the conscious decision to voluntarily disconnect can be anxiety ridden, making you certain you’re going to miss something or, worse, that your “friends” and “followers” are going to forget you. These feelings of anxiety and social disconnection can lead to depression.

If you suspect you may have an unhealthy level of anxiety associated with your online activity, or lack thereof, consider the following criteria used to determine nonchemical addiction:

Importance: How important has it become to your sense of self and the way you live your life? You can determine importance not only by how much you’re doing it, but also by how much you’re not doing other things. Priority equals importance.

Reward Response: Does doing it make you feel better and more in control? Does not doing it make you feel worse? Doing things you enjoy makes you feel better. Avoiding things you dislike can make you feel better, at least initially. There is a positive payoff to all this activity that can obscure the activities’ negative consequence.

Prevalence: Do you find yourself doing it more often and for longer periods of time than you originally planned? If you feel compelled to say “Just a little bit more” all the time, you’re carving out more and more space in your life for these activities. The question becomes, in order to carve out this time, to what else are you taking the knife?

Cessation: Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable if you cannot do it or if you just think about not doing it? One way to gauge how important these things have become for you is to consider doing without them. The higher level of panic and pain you anticipate, the stronger the hold they have over you.

Disruption: Has doing it disrupted your life and your relationships, causing interpersonal or personal conflicts over what you’re doing?

Reverting: Do you often say to yourself you’re going to do something different but then turn around and keep doing the same thing—or doing it even more? Before you know it, you’re right back to doing what you did, and more.

It is difficult to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy on the inside when you are struggling with feelings of anxiety, disconnection, inadequateness, and emptiness caused by the constant bombardment of technology and social media. The answer is in taking back control, as much as is possible, of the outside environment of your life. Either we allow our activities and our circumstance to carry us along, or we take control of the direction our lives are going.

Take a moment to examine the role of technology and social media have on your life. Which elements of this technological connection is fulfilling? Which parts leave you feeling inadequate, drained and depressed? Ultimately, the environment you create for yourself is vital in overcoming your depression. Structuring a holistic recovery plan, taking into consideration nuances like technology use, is imperative to this process.

The Center • A Place of HOPE has been consistently ranked among the top treatment facilities in the country for depression. If you believe you are struggling with a technology addiction that may be contributing to your depression, call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 to discuss treatment options. Know that you are not alone during this struggle, and never lose hope.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.