by Dr. Andreas Michaelides, PhD

 

Depression can be invisible — it often goes unseen by others because those in the throes of depression often feel isolated and withdraw from life.   Making the first move is hard; getting treatment requires a certain level of motivation and a hope that things will get better.  Depressed people often lack motivation and feel hopeless.

There are additional barriers depressed people face in taking the first step toward recovery: 

  1. Forming new relationships can be challenging.  Starting a relationship with a new person (like a therapist) is not always easy.  
  2. Lack of knowledge.  Many people don’t always realize what treatment entails; they are oftentimes not aware of the differences between a psychologist and psychiatrist.  Psychologists are trained extensively to deliver talk therapy, whereas psychiatrists mainly focus on making sure you receive the correct medications if you need them.
  3. Fear of stigma.  There is a misperception by some that “you have to be crazy” to go seek help.  Others think they should be able to “brave it alone” and asking for help is a sign of weakness.  In fact, one of the hardest (and therefore bravest) things to do is to take that first step.

Fortunately there are trained professionals armed with skills like talk therapy and neurofeedback training that can help develop coping mechanisms to deal with feelings and symptoms and change behavior patterns that may contribute to depression.

It’s important to know that many people experience ups and downs. If feelings of depression persist for over a week and half, and you and/or others notice significant changes in how you think, feel, or act, it’s time to reach out to a professional, especially if thoughts of suicide are expressed.”

Here is some advice for those suffering from depression:

  1. Find a way to be active.  It may sound counter-intuitive to be active when you do not have the motivation to start something, but engaging in an activity that previously gave satisfaction works to kick-start the brain.  The hardest part is starting!
  2. Reach out to your supports early.  Having someone to discuss things with can be the difference between sinking and swimming.
  3. Talk therapy is a very effective tool for depression.  Neurofeedback brain-wave training is another effective non-drug option that can help retrain abnormal brain-wave patterns that underlie depression.
  4. Talk about suicidal thoughts.  Often times people suffering from depression have thoughts of suicide.  Talk to someone!  There are well-established phone and texting hotlines that help (the national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Younger adults may prefer the texting hotline (text 741-741)
Be careful with social media — it can make depression worse.  People on social media likely put their best pictures up, giving the illusion that everyone else is happy. Remember that everyone, not just you, experiences highs and lows in life despite what he or she might choose to display on social media.

 

If a loved one is suffering, be supportive by:

  1. Getting some support yourself!  Helping someone cope with depression is difficult.  Make sure you have someone in your life that can help you support others.
  2. Asking for permission.  Consider helping your loved one by identifying a professional they can speak to.  Before taking a step like this, ask your loved one for permission.  Often, feeling depressed is like feeling like you’ve lost control.  Making an appointment without their permission might make those out-of-control feelings worse.
  3. Empathizing — not fixing! Your first reaction may be to try to help your loved one by “fixing” their problem.  You will be more supportive by showing your loved one that you can  empathize with their pain instead of trying to solve their problems.
  4. Gathering informational resources.  When your loved one is ready to take the first step toward recovery, you will be prepared to support them with valid, helpful information.

If you or a loved one is persistently down and can seem to rise above the sadness, contact Dr. Michaelides at the New Life Wellness Center in Smithtown for an appointment: 631.265.1223.