A Therapist Explains the Different Causes of Depression and How Therapy Can Help
If you or someone close to you is experiencing depression, then you already know how challenging it can be. One of the most challenging parts of depression is that it causes you to truly believe that things can’t get better. You may believe that things can never change, and you may even start having trouble remembering when things didn’t feel this way. As a result, it’s very difficult for people experiencing depression to reach out for help. It can feel like your negative thoughts are just taking over, and that you are powerless against your depression.
It’s important to recognize that your thoughts are not facts, and they don’t represent reality.
Now, that is not to say that negative thoughts can simply be dismissed. When you’re experiencing them, especially when you’re continuously experiencing them for long periods of time, they do feel overwhelming. But that isn’t to say that they cannot be challenged. In fact, one of the key parts of overcoming depression is learning to challenge your negative thoughts and cognitive distortions. And it works!
As a depression therapist, I can truthfully say that I’ve seen many people learn how to challenge their negative thoughts, and even overcome them.
So while it feels impossible now, please know that things can change. Remember that they haven’t always felt this way. And that you are deserving of support. You’re worthy of getting better.
What Causes Depression?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question. Because depression has many causes, and often multiple causes as well.
Some may start experiencing it after a major event in their life.
For example, moving to a new city and becoming distant from your friends or family can cause people to become isolated and unsure of themselves. Going through a major breakup or losing a friend can also cause people to begin experiencing symptoms of depression. Losing a loved one and grieving is certainly related to depression as well. And sometimes, these experiences are overlooked or minimized. People may think that these life transitions happen sometimes and that you just have to learn how to cope. But it’s not that simple when you’re going through it.
Some major live events are actually traumatic, and trauma can lead to depression in many cases.
Experiencing something such as a car crash, an unexpected loss of a loved one, or emotional and/or physical abuse can all have a very serious impact on people’s lives. Traumatic experiences can cause us to question what we know to be true and can cause people to lose a sense of control in their lives.
Trauma symptoms and depression symptoms overlap in many ways. For example, you may have trouble leaving your house and engaging in activities you used to enjoy. You might blame yourself for what happened and as a result, you may develop a negative view of yourself.
Those who struggle with anxiety similarly can be prone to depression symptoms.
Anxiety can cause people to isolate themselves from friends or family. Social anxiety and panic attacks can make it difficult to go out and be in social situations, which can also make it difficult to make friends or maintain friendships. You may always be expecting the worse in every situation, and consequently, have trouble believing that things can get better. Those who experience anxiety can develop low self-esteem as a result of the challenges that anxiety causes.
Isolation, low self-esteem, and hopelessness are all depression symptoms as well. So you can probably see how the two overlap.
And some people may have a chemical imbalance or other predisposition to it.
Not every person who deals with depression has gone through a major life change, a traumatic event, or another mental health concern that can coincide with depression. Many people experience depression symptoms because of a chemical imbalance. To put it simply, their brains are not producing enough of the chemicals that contribute to positive emotions and therefore, they have a harder time experiencing them.
This is why some people have been prescribed medication as a treatment for depression. And medication can be an effective form of depression treatment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that medication works best in conjunction with depression therapy. Because while medication can help to treat the chemical imbalance, therapy for depression treatment can address the behaviors and habits that people with a chemical imbalance may fall into. However, we’ll get more into depression therapy and how it helps shortly.
Depression can also be genetic.
This means that if you have a family history of depression, you may be predisposed to developing depression symptoms at some point in life. Having a predisposition to depression may make it more likely that you develop symptoms after a major life event or traumatic experience. This is why the answer as to what causes depression is so complex. There can be, and often are, a number of overlapping factors that contribute to someone developing depression symptoms.
But regardless of the cause (or causes) of depression, there is effective depression treatment available.
How Does Depression Therapy Work?
Now, because there are many causes of depression and forms that it can take, there isn’t a single approach to depression treatment. This is why many therapists pull from a range of modalities when working with a client experiencing depression. Within behavioral therapy, a depression therapist may use techniques associated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).
The thing that all of these approaches have in common is that they help people make changes in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to gain more “control” of their symptoms.
One of the ways that depression therapy helps people make these changes is by teaching them coping skills.
As you’ve probably assumed, coping skills are techniques that people can use to cope with different emotions or experiences. See, we’re all going to experience negative things sometimes, it’s a part of life. But it’s important that we’re able to cope with those experiences in healthy ways.
When you aren’t equipped with healthy coping skills, you’re like a small boat in the ocean. And as a small boat, waves can feel really intense! They can knock you from side to side or even topple you over. However, when you’re taught healthy coping skills you’re less like a small row boat and more like a cruise boat. You aren’t as easily rocked by the waves around you.
In this scenario, negative experiences and depression are the water and waves. We can’t completely get rid of them. Big waves are going to happen. However, we can build a boat that is strong enough that it doesn’t get as rocked by these waves.
Coping skills can help you to cope with and sometimes challenge negative thoughts and feelings.
For example, depression often causes what is called “cognitive distortions”. These are distorted thoughts or perceptions that cause people to see things in an inaccurate way. And as you’re likely aware, when we believe these distortions, they can have a really negative impact on our life.
One cognitive distortion is disqualifying the positive. Let’s say that despite the fact that you didn’t think you were going to have a good time, and you were convinced that you were going to regret it, you went out with a friend. And despite your fears, you actually had a good time! However, you discounted this as progress because “your friend is the only reason you had a good time”. This is an example of disqualifying the positive.
By learning to challenge the cognitive distortions that depression can cause, you’ll have an easier time recognizing and believing positive things about yourself and your life.
However, depression therapy isn’t only focused on challenging and changing your thoughts. It also addresses your behaviors.
How we think impacts how we feel and how we behave. And how we behave can impact how we think and feel about ourselves. So it’s important to not only challenge our thinking but our behavior as well. For example, many people experiencing depression struggle with motivation. They may not feel motivated to get out of bed or go see friends, or do the things that they used to enjoy. And as a result, they may feel like life isn’t enjoyable or that they’re “broken” because they aren’t doing the things that they used to do.
However, you don’t actually have to feel motivated to do something. Sometimes, you have to do the thing before you actually want to do it. And with practice, it will get easier. And with time, you can start to find joy in the activities that you used to.
Depression therapy works to help you identify the behaviors that are contributing to your depression, and take small steps to change them. By making small changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you can start to gain relief from your depression symptoms.
You can find strength in yourself and meaning in your life.
How do I know whether I need to reach out and start depression therapy?
One of the most challenging parts of managing and overcoming depression is taking the first step to reach out and get help. Many people struggle to realize that they need help. They may tell themselves that they’re being dramatic, or that they just need to “get over it”. But if it were that simple, they wouldn’t be struggling with depression in the first place.
So if you’re wondering whether you need to reach out for help, then it’s probably time to reach out for help. Depression is very real and very difficult to live with. But you don’t have to navigate it on your own. This isn’t to say that depression therapy is a magic fix. It’s not. It takes work to change your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
But it is worth it.
Find Your Joy & Start Healing With Depression Therapy in Winter Park, FL
Regardless of what your negative thoughts may be telling you, know that you are deserving of support. You’re deserving of compassion, healing, and joy. And while depression is real, so is healing. So is joy.
Our Orlando therapists specialize in depression and can help you work through your challenges in order to find the strength and healing you deserve. If you’re interested in beginning therapy for depression treatment, you can take these steps to start:
- Contact our team to schedule an initial appointment
- Be paired with one of our compassionate therapists
- Begin working through your depression and start to find healing
Other Counseling Services That Are Offered at The Mindful Practice in Winter Park, FL
We know that depression often coincides with other experiences. Perhaps a traumatic experience has contributed to your symptoms. Or maybe your anxiety, or specifically social anxiety, has led to you becoming isolated and unsure of yourself. You may have recently gone through a major life transition which has made it more difficult to cope with your symptoms. Our Orlando therapists don’t only offer depression therapy, they offer therapy for trauma, anxiety, and life transitions as well.
In addition to offering therapy for teens and adults in Winter Park, FL, we can also work with anyone located within the state of Florida through online therapy. So no matter where in Florida you are or what challenges you’re facing, we can help. You can contact us today to get started on your healing journey.