Am I depressed?

Sometimes clients come into my office wanting a diagnosis of depression. They may feel that this diagnosis validates their low mood, which they then can take back to their significant others and to help give explanation for their experience. Although psychologists have guidelines to make such a diagnosis, I often hesitate before doing this, explaining to my clients my view on depression. For many people, depression can be placed on a continuum and most people move along this continuum throughout their life span—ranging from happy and content to major depression. Depending on your current life situation, the coping skills you learned throughout your life, traumatic life experiences in your childhood, and the amount of support you have in you life, you can move along this continuum in your lifetime, at times feeling happy or content and at other times feeling discouraged or depressed. What is depression? Following is a list of symptoms for depression. These symptoms can be a normal part of life. However, the more symptoms you have, the longer you are living with them, and the stronger they are, the more severe the depression: Sleeping too much or too little; Feeling hopeless or helpless; Difficulty concentrating; Major change in appetite; Irritability; Hard on self and/or increase in negative thinking; Suicidal thoughts (seek help immediately if this occurs) What should you do? How do you know when you should go on antidepressants? Are there alternatives? How do you know when you should seek therapy? Many of my clients who experienced some or many of the above symptoms were uncertain whether they should seek help, and thus, may have...

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