“When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.”
— Henri Nouwen
Every year, almost 10% of the adult American population will experience symptoms meeting criteria for a Depressive Disorder. These symptoms can include feelings of sadness, worthlessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, loss of motivation or pleasure in life, sleep difficulties, difficulties with attention and concentration, and thoughts of suicide. For some, these periods come on fairly suddenly and strongly and tend to last for a few weeks to a few months. For others, the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low self esteem, and general dissatisfaction with life are more pervasive and longstanding; it may be difficult to remember a time when you did feel satisfied with life.
Nearly 6.3 million Americans are on antidepressant medication, a rate that has more than doubled in just the past ten years (Olfson, 2002). Many people wonder why they might want to go to psychotherapy for their depression symptoms when medication is such a common treatment. That is a very legitimate question, and one that should be explored with all the facts. While medication is helpful for some forms of depressive disorders, it is often not the only or even best treatment for depressive symptoms. Numerous scientific studies, including those conducted by the National Institutes of Health, have shown that several forms of psychotherapy are as effective in reducing symptoms of depression as is medication. In addition, some studies have shown that psychotherapy is more effective at preventing relapse of subsequent depressive episodes than is antidepressant medication. Furthermore, for those who do respond well to antidepressant medication, studies have shown that the addition of psychotherapy to pharmacological treatment (i.e. medication) most often results in even greater benefit. Psychotherapy can help make sustaining changes in your life so you aren’t just able to get out of bed in the morning, but you have created a life that is worth getting out of bed for.
Below are some resources that may be helpful:
- Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Line 503-988-4888
- American Psychological Association www.apa.org/topics/depress/index.aspx
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance www.dbsalliance.org
- National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov
- American Association of Suicidology www.suicidology.org
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org