Depression was Googled nearly 7000 times a month in New Zealand during the last year – with nearly 3000 searches a month just in Auckland. Depression affects up to 5% of the population with the prevalence being approximately twice as common in women as in men. It is estimated that up to 13% of New Zealanders will experience a depressive episode at some stage during their life. As well as a steady increase in occurrences there also seems to be a trend towards depression occurring at a younger age. As many as 24% of young people will have experienced a clinically depressive episode by the time they are 18 years old.
Depression is not always easy to recognise and the presence of multiple symptoms is needed for a diagnosis. As well as a prolonged depressed mood, symptoms of depression can include:
- Changes in sleep patterns (needing more sleep or difficulty sleeping)
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Lacking energy
- Loss of pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable
- Loss of sex drive
- Angry outbursts
- Changes in appetite (increase or decrease)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Upset or tearful for no apparent reason
- Recurrent thoughts of death
Whilst the term depression is used to describe a clinical diagnosis, the difference between being on one side of the diagnostic line or the other is often insignificant to the sufferer. You don’t have to meet the clinical criteria for a depressive episode to be suffering. Many people spend extended periods of time – months or even years – with mild but chronic depressive symptoms that may not meet the criteria for clinical depression, but still have a negative impact on their quality of life
Causes of depression
Depression is sometimes triggered by stressful life events such as divorce or break-ups, redundancy, death of a loved one, moving to a new country, or other difficult life changes. Depression can also build up gradually over many years and have no apparent cause or trigger. Childhood experiences and early traumas often play a part and depression often runs in families. People sometimes feel depressed without knowing quite why; they just know that something is not right.
How we treat depression
Many people think that treatment for depression means medication. However, whilst correctly prescribed medication is helpful for many people, research also shows that talking therapies such as counselling or psychotherapy are effective at not only treating the symptoms of depression, but also at understanding and addressing the underlying causes in order to help prevent recurrences.
At Auckland City Therapy we don’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to treating depression. We will adapt our treatment approach to your specific situation and work in the way that fits best with you. We will listen carefully in order to fully understand your experience and then work with you at your pace to get things back on track.
Addressing depression symptoms and the depressive cycle
The experience of depression can be a vicious cycle. How you feel affects what you think which affects how you behave.
For example, if you feel depressed you might not feel like leaving the house to get some exercise. You think to yourself, “what’s the point?” Then you don’t do anything which makes you feel worse. Then you think “I’m a lost cause” and it becomes even harder to leave the house. You feel even worse… The downward spiral continues.
We will help you recognise and understand the different elements of your struggle and then help you make the necessary changes to break the depressive cycle and ease your symptoms.
Addressing underlying causes
Sometimes addressing symptoms is enough to get you back on your feet. If not, causal factors may need to be explored and addressed. External problems such as unhappy relationships, financial worries, ongoing stress, can all contribute to depression. When you are depressed your capacity to address problems can also become depleted leaving you stuck and then further contributing to the depressive cycle.
Treatment for longer term depression or recurrent depressive episodes may involve exploring your early history in order to understand and work through some of the experiences that may have built up over the years and influenced how you feel today. Early experiences such as abuse, neglect, or other traumas can influence how you feel even years after they occurred. Sometimes these experiences gradually come to a head, sometimes something seemingly insignificant might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
We can help you make sense of the underlying factors that contribute to your depression and then work through or make changes so that you feel in control again.
If you think that you might be depressed or you are worried about how you feel then making an appointment with a counsellor or psychotherapist is the first step in getting things back on track. We help people with mild, moderate or severe depression. Contact us to make an appointment and find out how we can help you.