Recognizing Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest. It is also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living. Your body is also involved in this depression.

Clinical Depression Involves The Body

Chemically, your neurotransmitters, the substances that run your body, may be off-balance which further contributes to the inability to walk out of this depression without help. Chemical depression may be treated with a prescribed medication from your doctor or specialist. This medication is designed to bring your neurotransmitters back into balance and reduce the depression.

Depression differs from “the blues” or “feeling down” when it begins to interfere with everyday activities such as work and school and impacts your personal relationships. I utilize a combination of cognitive behavioural and interpersonal therapy to help alleviate symptoms of depression, specifically Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This approach is evidence-based and therefore empirically supported as an effective method of supporting you in starting to feel better in your life.

Medication for Depression

For some people it can be very difficult to agree to take medication as part of the journey to health. For some it feels like failure. If this worry is present for you, we will explore your concerns within our sessions. If you have been diagnosed with depression, and agree to take the prescribed medication from your doctor, it is very important to couple this medication with psychological treatment for maximum effectiveness and to solidify a long-term change. There is significant research confirming this.

Getting Help: Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT teaches people how to disengage from painful thoughts and feelings through acceptance and mindfulness skills, to develop self-compassion and flexibility, and to build life-enhancing patterns of behaviour.

1.) Flexible Thinking

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has become one of the leading third-wave therapies in recent years in the treatment of physical and mental health difficulties and aims to improve functioning and quality of life by increasing psychological flexibility. We do this in a number of ways, exploring our values, mindfulness practice, recognizing how to make space for difficult emotions that arise.

Within this technique I often use writing. Writing your thoughts, your story, your emotions is an evidence-based approach.  I use this within our treatment plan. This has been extensively researched and documented by Dr. Pennebaker of the University of Texas.

2.) Quality of Life and Overall Well-Being

Tapping into your personal values has a significant effect on the movement through depression. We will do specific exercises together to help you solidify your core values. The extent to which people are living in line with their values has been found to augment treatment effects. This is heavily researched and documented in the field of psychology.

3.) Self Concept and Sense of Self

Strengthening our sense of self in ACT is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing depression. We will do specific mindfulness exercises to increase your sense of self and deal with the intensity of your pain (psychological and physical).

In ACT we call it the “observing self”. This is the part of you that notices or observes your inner world and outer world. Also part of strengthening your sense of self is the ability to take a different perspective on your life, a specific situation, or a difficult issue. This increases our flexible thinking which helps with making space for difficult emotions, acceptance to what is, self awareness, self-compassion etc.

 

How will your life be different after just a few sessions of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy?

-increased sense of self, overall self-awareness.

-knowing what your values are, what brings you joy

-ability to take action toward healthy connections in your life with stronger mental health

-clear decision making

-physical changes within your body that support stronger mental well-being

 

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