Depression Therapist – Boynton Beach Depression Counseling
One of the leading causes people seek counseling and psychotherapy is for depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. (World Health Organization, 2020) An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)
After working with thousands of clients, I have come to view depression not as a disorder in and of itself but as feedback from one’s internal system that something is disordered. People are unique in numerous ways, and so is the manifestation and causes of their depressive symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health lists some of the most common symptoms clusters people experience who are diagnosed with Major Depression or some variation:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment
- Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
The Need for Individualized Treatment
The origins of these symptoms are sometimes straightforward but can be extremely complex in other cases leading to persistent depressive symptoms that are unresponsive to many treatments. To effectively treat my client’s depressive symptoms, I need to identify, understand, and intervene on the specific sources of their symptoms. This requires an individualized treatment plan.
In my clinical opinion, the lack of a personalized treatment plan is one of the primary reasons so many individuals struggle unduly and in a prolonged manner with their depressive symptoms. Without going down too much of a rabbit hole, this is chiefly the result of the medical model that is focused on diagnosis and manualized treatment approaches, which is typically a recommendation for medication management. Just check of the box on the symptom clusters and prescribe the appropriate medication and all will be well. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple for a variety of reasons.
The Limits of Medication
I am not antagonistic to medication. In certain cases, people have benefitted tremendously. However, in the majority of clients I have worked with the best they can offer is a diminishment of symptoms but not resolution of the root cause. I inform my clients, “I am not focused on management of your symptoms but termination of them.” In other individuals, medications can exacerbate symptoms or create new ones. Even when effective, medication is a moving target. The body wants to be in a homeostatic/balanced state. Whatever you do to it, it will attempt to respond in some way to restore the previous balance. This is how tolerance develops.
Most of today’s antidepressants work on blocking reuptake of the neurotransmitter Serotonin. It does not raise your Serotonin levels but keeps more floating around in the gap between your neurons, synapse, so it can potentially produce increased feelings of calm and well-being. However, your body will attempt to adapt to this and the benefit you receive will likely diminish over time. Furthermore, the prescribing physician is making educated guesses based on their perspective or experience. This sometimes goes well, and at other times not. It is a bit of a game of darts.
The actual source of your depressive symptoms could stem from a variety of causes:
- Unprocessed grief
- Long-standing feelings of shame and inadequacy
- Relationship conflict
- Lack of social connections
- Regret and despair at where you are currently in life compared to where you desired to be at this point
- Feeling stuck in a career that is dissatisfying or miserable for you
- Various forms of post traumatic stress that cause a neurological shut down state
- Patterns of learned helplessness
- Medical issues leading to psychological symptoms
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Hormonal imbalances
- Phase of life issues, such as empty nest, retirement, etc.
- Gastrointestinal problems that can also lead to deficiencies in Serotonin and Dopamine levels
- Existential issues, such as lack of purpose and meaning in one’s life
- Spiritual trauma and abuse
I hope the previous list of potential causes gives you an understanding of the complexity that can be associated with the depressive symptoms you may be experiencing. The view that it is as simple as a ‘chemical imbalance’ is not reality. Even in instances where there is a neurochemical contributor, I have never found it to be the exclusive cause.
Getting To the Root
The encouraging news is you can identify the causative factors and address them. The proof is in the results. As a psychotherapist, I am very focused on my clients attaining the outcomes they came to see me for. We work collaboratively with our clients to develop a uniquely, individualized plan to assist them in resolving their depressive symptoms. Getting to the root may take a bit more than just taking a pill, but it is well worth the effort and leads to true resolution.
If you, or someone you love, are currently struggling with depressive symptoms, please contact us today to assess and identify the exact origins of your symptoms and allow us to create an individualized plan to achieve full cessation of your depressive symptoms.