Are You Depressed? What is Depression? What is Major Depression?

Hi! I am Santa Rosa psychologist, therapist, and counselor Dr. Eric Ryan - I am a depression doctor or psychotherapist. There are psychologically based, proven treatments to relieve depression that do not involve taking drugs. I would like to talk to you about your mood and help you understand if you are clinically depressed and what you can do to overcome depression.

depression-and-smokingUnfortunately, it is easy to get depressed these days! Depression is an all too common, treatable condition that affects millions of people over the course of a life time. Depression hurts—it causes deep pain and distress. Depression is a frequent reaction to stressors that have overwhelmed your normal ability to cope or when you encounter a number of losses (loved ones, homes, job, etc). Depression can also be caused by a number of other things like:

Painful or overwhelming adjustments or life transitions
Unresolved childhood issues like past trauma, abuse (physical, sexual or even emotional) or neglect
Mid life crises
Relationship problems
Medical issues
Overwhelming work related pressure
Biological factors like genes, family history of depression, hormonal fluctuations
Depression is twice as common in women
Other psychiatric disorders, especially anxiety disorders (see below)
Major Depression is a severe Mood Disorder that can become chronic if left untreated. A Major Depression or a Mood Disorder is a syndrome that is not a normal reaction to life’s difficulties. You may have major depression if for a two week period you consistently have at least 5 or more of the symptoms described below. Take a look at the following list of symptoms and see how many you have:

Depressed mood most of the day
Significantly less interest in things
Insomnia or sleeping too much
Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or preoccupation with death
Appetite disturbance: either too little appetite or marked increase
Feeling agitated, frantic or being comatose, both are observable by others
Feeling worthless or really guilty most of the time
Loss of energy and fatigue
Trouble thinking, concentrating or being really indecisive
How Do I Get Help to Overcome My Depression?

If you suspect you are depressed you should get help right away! You do not have to feel this way! There are effective treatments for depression that do not have to involve being on antidepressants for the rest of your life (although that sometimes feels like it is the only choice). There are several, effective different approaches to help you get beyond your depression. One focuses primarily on symptoms and is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Here you learn skills to resolve negative moods (see Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Santa Rosa). While this approach is helpful, sometimes deeper issues are causing your mood to be down. The other approaches seeks to get to the root of what is causing your depression and as a group are called “Depth Therapy”. Here depression is viewed as a symptom of some underlying problem that is not resolved and may relate to your past or to difficult decisions you are not making in your life (e.g. unrecognized problems with how your life is going, work, relationships, etc). See Depth Therapy for an explanation. It is important to get help if you feel depressed!

Dr. Eric Ryan
Dr. Eric Ryan is a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa California. He is currently the Training Director for the Post Doctoral Residency Program at Kaiser Psychiatry in Santa Rosa and was previously the Chair for the Anxiety Disorder Best Practices for all of Northern California Kaiser Psychiatry.


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