by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD
Depression is insidious and can sneak up on us. These days, in the midst of a receding pandemic, we are seeing increases in the frequency and intensity of depression. Take a look at the list of symptoms of depression outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and see if any of these symptoms apply to you.
In order to be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder you must have five of the following symptoms for at least two weeks.
--Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless, or having others notice those feelings in you.
--Losing interest in those activities you have otherwise enjoyed. For example, no longer caring if you go fishing when you normally love fishing.
--Losing or gaining 5% of your body weight in only a month’s time. Or seeing a change in how much you eat, like the loss of appetite or the tendency to eat everything in sight.
--Experiencing a disturbance in your sleep. This could be the onset of struggling with insomnia (I can’t sleep) or hypersomnia (I only want to sleep)
--Having others indicate that you are physically slowed down or physically agitated more than usual.
--Feeling fatigued and lacking in energy.
--Having deep feelings of worthlessness, or feeling excessively guilty without adequate cause.
--Having difficulty concentrating and difficulty making decisions.
--Having thoughts about wanting to die, or clear thoughts about suicide.
Research done in late 2020 suggests “that prevalence of depression symptoms in the US was more than 3-fold higher during COVID-19 compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with lower social resources, lower economic resources, and greater exposure to stressors (eg, job loss) reported a greater burden of depression symptoms.” (JAMA)
In other words, this pandemic messed with our mental health, understandably so, and we each need to consider how it has impacted us. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is already common in the US. Research done prior to the pandemic indicates that just over 10% of the adult population in the US experiences a MDD in any 12 month period, and almost 21% of us will experience a Major Depressive episode in our lifetime. Given the significant mental health impact of the pandemic, I suspect those numbers are higher now.
Now for the good news - depression is treatable. You can recover from depression. There are several psychological approaches to therapy that effectively treat depression. At times there may be a need for medication, and current medications for depression are often very helpful as well. What we know is that the most effective treatment for significant or severe depression is the combination of psychotherapy and medication.
You do not have to hunker down and try to gut it out when you are struggling with depression. Help is available and effective.
If you want or need to talk with someone who can walk with you through this difficult time, consider a therapist at River Counseling Services and Sioux Falls Psychological Services where we meet you where you are, offering hope. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services therapists from your own computer or smartphone. To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.