Sadness or simple unhappiness affects us all from time to time. But how do you know when you have a case of the blues or are depressed? Having a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure that persists for more than two weeks along with at least 5 of the following symptoms most likely indicates you are experiencing depression.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • depressed mood nearly daily for at least two weeks
  • loss of pleasure or diminished interest in most activities
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or excessive guilt
  • diminished ability to concentrate or make decisions
  • social withdrawal
  • recurring thoughts of death or suicidal thinking

For more information and a depression symptoms checklist go to the National Mental Health America website.

Depression can be caused by many things. Chronic stress, situational stress, losses and biological predisposition can all play a part. Despite the specific cause, all depressions are maintained by a common pattern of negative thinking that distorts one’s view of reality. It’s like viewing the world through dark glasses.

To relieve depression, the patterns of negative thinking have to be changed to better reflect reality. In addition, changes in behavior and relationships are also important. I treat depression by first determining its severity level. Then I help my clients identify and change their thinking patterns. My treatment approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR and interpersonal support therapy. I use a structured approach to treatment, with clear methods, goals, and weekly homework. I also work with my clients to determine if medication would be helpful and make referrals when needed.