How can a Psychologist or Counsellor help Depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is one of the most common mental health disorders in Australia. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression (Beyond Blue, 2016). Fortunately, with the right support, depression is a highly treatable condition.
The cause of depression is multifactorial, meaning there may be genetic, biological, psychological, social and environmental factors contributing. Major life trauma, stress and change can be a trigger for depression. People with chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease and other debilitating illnesses are at an increased risk of depression, as are those with a family history of depression.
Depression affects each individual person in a different way. Most people experience a combination of the following:
- Prolonged and intense feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, guilty or worthless
- Restlessness, irritability and anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Weight fluctuations
- Physical pain, such as headaches
- Suicidal thoughts
Depression in Children and Adolescents
Depression is common in children and adolescents, with approximately 1 in 35 Australians aged 4-17 experiencing a depressive disorder. Signs to look out for include: irritability, extremely low motivation, becoming socially withdrawn, poor performance at school, persistent sadness, engaging in risk-taking behaviours, and drug and alcohol abuse. Whilst antidepressant medications can be effective, they can cause side effects in young people, and for that reason many healthcare professionals encourage psychology therapies as a first line of treatment. The good news is that most children and adolescents recover from depression, though early treatment is paramount in preventing recurrence in early adulthood or later in life.
Treatment for Depression
There are many treatments that are effective for depression, and a range of health professionals and organisations can assist. Many people find enough support from one health professional, while others benefit from a small team of health professionals for different aspects of their treatment. Everyone is different. The most common therapies are lifestyle and dietary changes, social support networks, psychological therapies and medical treatment.
Whilst depression is commonly viewed as a ‘mental’ health disorder, it is important to consider aspects of the physical body, for example, nutrient deficiencies, biochemical imbalances, digestive health, and genetic influences. This ensures the most comprehensive approach to treatment. There may be times where our clients will be referred to their Medical Doctor for assessment of medications and/or a to Naturopath for assessment of nutrient deficiencies. However, this is assessed and discussed individually.
Seeking help from a Psychologist or Counsellor
A psychologist or counsellor works with the client to understand the factors that might be contributing to depression, and develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses the contributing factors.
There are many effective and specialised forms of psychological treatments for depression, which address symptoms and help to reduce the likelihood of depression in the future. Therapies that may be used include CBT, IPT, STPP, mindfulness and relaxation therapies. A psychologist can help patients identify unhelpful thought processes or behaviours, find ways to accept, adapt or change situations that contribute to depression, implement skills to cope with stress and manage their symptoms of depression, and set realistic goals.
These strategies can lead to recovery and enable patients to feel and function at their best.
We would be humbled to help you. You do not need a referral from your doctor to see our Practitioners, however, doing so may attract a medicare rebate. Best contact us for more information.