Q: Last year I went through a lot of stuff, but I won’t go into all of it because this email might turn into a novel. Some of my close family relationships changed in a negative way and have never been the same since. I’m affected by this change on a daily basis. I think I might be depressed, but I also question if I’m overreacting and just need some time to cope. I vent to my close friends and that makes me feel better, but only temporarily. I’ve thought about seeing a therapist, but I keep putting it off. I’m just trying to make it through, but things seem to be getting more difficult. I would appreciate some advice. Thank you for your time.
A: Thank you for reaching out! I know it’s not easy to be vulnerable and ask for help. The most important message I can send to you is that your feelings are valid. It’s true that everyone deals with bouts of sadness from time to time when dealing with loss, rejection or the stresses of life. But when these feelings of depression become overwhelming, affect your daily functioning and persist, you need to take notice and give yourself some much needed attention. Rather than brushing these feelings under the rug when you’re still obviously hurting, why not give therapy a shot to see if it helps? I like to put it this way-if you were experiencing physical symptoms such as a sore throat, weakness and cough, you’d go to the Dr for treatment, right? Your body was telling you that you were ill and you listened. The same goes for mental health.
Depression is caused by a multitude of factors including a chemical imbalance of Serotonin, genetics, stressful life events, some medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these factors interact to cause depression.
What Are Symptoms of Depression? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms may include:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
It seems you’ve been trying to solve your problems on your own for awhile and as you stated, “things seem to be getting more difficult”. A therapist will listen to your story and help guide you through managing your current feelings. The best part is they will assist you in discovering how to move forward. I’d start by calling your insurance company to find a list of therapists in your area. Then do a little research and go to their websites to check out their specialties. There are therapists who also work on a sliding scale fee. Take that first step. It requires a lot of strength, but it could lead you to a happier and more free place. I’d say that’s worth it.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
US Suicide Prevention Lifeline