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January 31, 2017

Are you Sad or Depressed?

It’s become quite common for people to say, “I’m feeling depressed today”, when actually, they may just be feeling a little sad. It’s normal to feel sad every now and then. After all, things happen in life which can make us feel a little sad. Sometimes we feel sad for what seems like no reason. This may be for a hormonal reason, or you may just be having a random “feeling blah” kind of day. Nothing wrong with that. The key to dealing with sadness is to work through the feeling, so that you are able to get to a place of peace. If you push away the sadness without feeling the feeling, you end up repressing the sadness, which can make it worse. The next time you feel sad, sit with the feeling, think about it, feel it, figure out if there’s a reason (and solution!) for it, and then do something that makes you feel better (such as going outside on a sunny day, taking a walk, playing with your pet, reading, or doing a craft.)

How do you know you are depressed, not just sad? Clinically, depression lasts for at least two weeks. Besides feeling depressed, you may notice something called anhedonia, which is “loss of interest in pleasurable activities.” If you used to love going to the movies, and now you just don’t feel like it anymore, that is anhedonia. Other symptoms are changes in weight/appetite, sleeping too little or too much, feeling restless or lethargic, feeling worthless, feeling hopeless, or having trouble concentrating or making decisions. Some people have suicidal thoughts as well. If this is you, please call the Crisis Line immediately at 1-800-939-5911.

Sometimes depression is caused by a devastating life event, such as a loss. Other times it may come out of the blue. Everything may be going really well in your life, but you still may find yourself feeling not just sad, but depressed. Some people have a family history of depression, while others feel depressed for hormonal reasons (such as PMS for women, low testosterone for men.) If this is the first time you have felt depressed, I recommend you see your doctor first, in order to rule out any physical reason for the feelings of depression.

The good news is that sadness/depression is treatable. Sometimes people feel sad because of something going on in their lives, and they see a therapist for a few counseling sessions to help them cope. Some people are reluctant to seek therapy because they think they should be able to figure things out for themselves. Please remember it is perfectly fine to seek professional help if you need it. That’s what counselors are here for. Would you feel guilty if you needed an accountant to help you file your taxes? Of course not, that’s what they are trained to do. So if you need help working through a past or present event, I encourage you to see a therapist. We are trained to help you. I offer brief, solution-focused therapy, so counseling doesn’t need to be long-term.

My favorite therapy technique is CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.) With CBT, you change the way you think (cognitive) and change the way you act (behavioral). The goal is to help you cope with, and even prevent, feelings of sadness or depression.

When I counsel clients who experience sadness or depression, I use CBT and sometimes one hypnotherapy session as well. It is helpful to listen to your customized hypnotherapy CD/mp3 when you are feeling feeling sad or depressed, or just starting to feel that way. The goal is to shorten the length of time you feel depressed, and also to “nip it in the bud” if you listen to it as soon as you start to feel depressed.

Another technique that works really well for sadness or depression is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). This technique is similar to acupuncture or acupressure, except instead of using needles or pressure, you tap on 15 places on your face and upper body. It only takes 1 minute and is remarkably effective.

Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of depression is feeling unmotivated or stuck. So be proud of yourself that you took the time to visit my website and read this article. You have taken the first step to feeling better! Let me know when you are ready to take the next step of scheduling a session so that you can feel happy and peaceful again.