Do you often feel sad?
Do you not take as much pleasure in things as you once did?
Do you have less energy?
Do you find yourself getting angry or agitated more than usual?
Are you using drugs or alcohol to feel less down?
We all feel depressed sometimes
We all get bummed out at times. It’s extremely normal. Research indicates that most of us will experience some level of depression at one or more points in our lives. It’s especially normal to experience depression after a trauma or a loss of some kind or when you’re feeling stuck or trapped in a hard situation like an unhappy marriage or a bad work environment. Sometimes we are painfully aware that we’re depressed; other times we may not realize it till those around us point it out to us. Either way, it’s a lousy way to feel and you may be struggling trying to figure out how to feel better. You might be the sort of person that can handle anything that comes your way. Until this.
But you’re in good company. Many successful, well-known people have struggled with depression, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Harrison Ford, Ricky Williams, Lady Gaga, Michael Phelps, Terry Bradshaw, Dolly Parton, and Brad Pitt.
Whether or not what you’re experiencing meets the criteria for a true clinical depression, it’s still frustrating and unpleasant. Signs that you’re experiencing depression can include feeling sad or bummed out, not enjoying things that used to bring you joy, sleeping more or less than usual, eating more or less than usual, having less energy than you typically do, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty concentrating, and thinking about suicide. For men, depression often shows up as feelings of anger or irritability or complaints of physical pain like headaches or gastrointestinal discomfort.
Talking to a depression counselor can help.
Often, simply having someone to talk to about what you’re feeling provides tremendous relief. Many of us – guys in particular - fall into the unhealthy habit of not talking about how we’re feeling, which generally makes us feel worse. Men are raised to hold their feelings in and not acknowledge sadness. They’re also taught to not ask for help, to not reach out. This is a recipe for trouble when a guy is feeling down.
Not everyone who’s depressed is helped by the same things. For some, j just setting goals and having someone you’re accountable to can get you out of the depression. Any therapist will tell you that the first things to try if you’re feeling depressed are exercise, getting good quality sleep, eating healthy, and avoiding self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. But bringing oneself to do these things, even when you know they will help, can be hard or impossible to do when you’re depressed. Sometimes talking with a therapist can help give you the extra push you need to start taking these steps. Some people find help comes from understanding the unhealthy habits that contribute to them feeling down, which talking to a therapist can help with.
I’ve been working with clients experiencing forms of depression for over 20 years. As a licensed psychotherapist and a certified alcohol and drug counselor, I’m qualified to help you figure out if the depression you’re experiencing is related to or caused by drug or alcohol use. Sometimes, when people stop or reduce their drinking or drug use, they find the depression miraculously disappears. Sometimes this is not the case and even when drugs and alcohol are removed, there is still an underlying depression.
An estimated 7% of adults in the U.S. experience severe depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder. If you feel you’ve been depressed for years or if your depression is debilitating or causing you to feel suicidal, I suggest finding a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). These are not types of therapy I specialize in, but there are many therapists in Austin who do. Though you could likely get some degree of help from talking to any therapist, I strongly urge you to find someone with one of these areas of expertise and training if you are experiencing severe or debilitating depression.
You may have some questions
Do I have to take medication?
Anti-depressants are horribly overprescribed in this country, but they can be appropriate and helpful for some people – sometimes even being the “silver bullet” for depression. I think if someone has tried everything else – like talk therapy, exercise, etc. – and they are still depressed, it makes sense to see a psychiatrist to discuss medication. Though many people in this country are prescribed anti-depressants by their primary care doctors, I strongly recommend seeing a psychiatrist.
Won’t talking about it make me feel even worse?
No. It doesn’t work this way, though this is a common fear. Generally, people feel a real sense of relief when they open up to a therapist. My clients will often tell me it feels that a weight has been lifted once they start talking. They usually will say that all the anxiety they felt about sitting down for the first appointment is gone by the end of the first session.
Do I have to come to therapy forever?
No. Often, people experiencing depression find relief just from having someone to talk to, someone whose feelings they don’t have to be concerned about and who they don’t have to interact with outside of the therapy room. Often just having this outlet makes a big difference.
Can’t I just wait out the depression?
You could. Often it will pass in time, but talking to a counselor about your depression will almost certainly speed up the process. The longer you wait to get help, the longer you may be unnecessarily prolonging your suffering. And you do not have to suffer.
You don't have to suffer
If you are ready to get help for your depression, I invite you to call me at 512-590-9868. If I don’t feel I’m the right person to help you, I will refer you to someone who is a better fit. I look forward to hearing from you.