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“Am I depressed?”

Most of us have times when we feel low, sad, or stuck.  Through online therapy, we can help you understand your negative emotions and better care for yourself when feeling them.  

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“Maybe I’m depressed?”

By Ellie Herman LCSW
Most of us have had this thought at some point when we feel low, sad, or stuck.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a common diagnosis for people experiencing such emotions. MDD can affect how you think, go about your daily activities, take care of your self, and react to others. Understanding if you are depressed can be overwhelming and confusing.

Mental health counselors and therapists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM 5) to decide if a client has MDD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 19.4 million adults in the US experienced an episode of MDD depression in the year 2019.

Major Depressive Disorder is commonly characterized by the following symptoms, occurring most days for two weeks:

  1. Mood: sad, anxious, helpless, numb

  2. Feeling: hopeless, irritable, negative

  3. Sense of guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest

  4. Observation: tearful, withdrawn, moving or talking more slowly

  5. Energy: low, more fatigued (alt: restless, cannot sit still)

  6. Concentration/memory: poor

  7. Sleep: over/under sleeping

  8. Appetite and weight changes, unexplained

  9. Thoughts of suicide*

  10. Persistent aches and pains without physical cause

Illustration of a bee with wings spread in flight
A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder requires several symptoms.

Importantly, not everyone will experience every symptom or a severe sense of each symptom. However, if you are experiencing some/a few symptoms, or inconsistent symptoms, you may still meet criteria for another type of depression and can benefit from online therapy for depression.

There are also other forms of depression in the DSM 5.

These include (not limited to):

  1. Persistent Depressive Disorder

  2. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

  3. Substance/Medication – Induced Depressive Disorder

  4. Postpartum Depression

  5. Seasonal Affect Disorder

  6. Bipolar Disorder

You do not need to meet all criteria to benefit from therapy for depression. If your depressive symptoms are interfering with your life, you deserve to feel better. Your definition of better is important, too.

Often we become stuck in negative, spiraling thoughts. It feels like there’s no way out of the tunnel you’ve dug with your own thoughts; the only way to keep going is down. Sometimes this means you stop taking care of yourself or connecting with friends and family. You may feel sad and lonely but unable to find the energy or motivation to talk or socialize.

Online therapy for depression typically begins by creating a safe space to explore those self-defeating thoughts without judgment.

Therapy is like a cardboard box that can hold all your pain without making assumptions about you. It’s safe to be you, as is.

Once we have a sense of the thoughts you experience, we will begin understanding how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are connected. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) addresses this concept and I use it often.

Our world is built on pattern, but everything is flexible. Though you feel stuck now, there are ways to break the pattern of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that allows a new course in life.

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This new course is what you and I will navigate together. I can teach you to interfere with your own thought patterns, to modify how you interact with your world so that you feel better, whatever that may look like to you.

So, are you depressed?
If you find yourself feeling persistent sadness, guilt, hopeless, helpless, or worthless, you have some symptoms of depression.

Together, we can find greater peace, acceptance, and compassion for yourself.
We can learn to think differently and break negative patterns.
We can learn a new language that promotes growth, neutrality, and warmth, rather than negativity.

You will learn to take care of yourself in a new way,
through nurturing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

*If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm, please call 9-8-8 or contact the Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255  
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