Richard Bloom MFT 09312
Depressionand psychotherapy for depression
There are days when the act of getting out of bed in the morning may seem heroic, like overcoming the weight of sandbags heaped over your body. It hardly seems worth the effort. And yet lying there in bed is not peaceful. Random thoughts stir anxieties. It's hard to take a deep breath. Your chest feels frozen and there is a perpetual knot in your stomach. You drag yourself through the day. Life seems an arm's length away and you view it through a cloudy lens. You feel half dead but at times fear that you might explode. You are convinced that this is no way to live but you have no idea how to find the path out of this morass.
It affords little solace to have a name for it--depression. Depression is a common condition that most people experience at some point in their lives. It can be triggered by the loss of someone dear to us by death or divorce or relocation. Or the loss of a pet that has long been a part of our life and our family. Losing a job or large amounts of money in the stock market collapse can severely alter our self-image and damage our self-respect. Sometimes we freeze when we are faced with a difficult choice about marriage, friendship, work, family. At those times we may feel helpless and lose our hope for the future.
Depression can be isolating. People often avoid contact with friends and family because it is too painful to pretend that they are feeling okay, and they are ashamed to admit that they aren't. They want help but they fear people will look down on them or see them as a burden.
And yet depression, particularly in its acute form, is very treatable. Drugs may provide a temporary relief but relapse rates tend to be high. A 2005 paper led by Steven Hollon, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University found that people on antidepressants had a 76 percent chance of relapse within a year when the drugs were discontinued. In contrast, patients given a form of cognitive talk therapy had a relapse rate of 31 percent. And Hollon’s data aren’t unusual: several studies found that patients treated with medication were approximately twice as likely to relapse as patients treated with cognitive behavior therapy. The reasons are not hard to fathom. Depression is about being stuck. It thrives in isolation. Often powerful feelings have been triggered that feel too dangerous to acknowledge or express. Instead the body shuts down. An inkling of hope can get the dammed up energy flowing again. Sometimes the mere act of making a phone call and scheduling a session with a psychotherapist can begin to turn the tide. Sitting and talking to someone who is understanding and accepting is healing. As you regain your confidence, your sense of purpose, and even your sense of humor, you also learn how to manage emotions that have seemed so daunting. You learn about yourself and arm yourself with skills to handle future difficulties.
Depression may not be a wasted detour but is often a time of incubation, a time of quiet change from which people burst forth with new life.
Richard Bloom, mft, is a psychotherapist with over 40 years experience helping individuals and couples. He has offices in Santa Rosa and Berkeley.
For more information or to schedule an appointment call: 707-665-0846.