Many people feel sad or down from time to time. This is a normal human experience.  Our feelings usually have a trigger and resolve quickly when stress is relieved or our thoughts focus elsewhere. 

Depression is an experience where one feels down, sad, or unhappy for a prolonged period of time.  Depression effects every aspect of our lives.   Our physical being responds to depression with sleeplessness, loss of and/or increased appetite, and even the ability to fight off infection can be negatively impacted by depression.  Thoughts and perceptions which determine how we make decisions about our relationships, work, finances, and future are all hurt by depression.

The two types of clinical depression:

External depression results from a specific life event such as a change or a loss.

This can come from a relationship ending, a job transition, an unexpected event, death, divorce, or any kind of loss. Sometimes, even events that seem happy such as a wedding, retirement, or birth of a child can trigger a depression. Negative or positive change often brings loss and we then make meaning of it.  The meanings we make about our experience with loss in our life can trigger depression. This type of depression is often helped by therapy.

Internal depression is a type of depression where you might struggle with feeling down for years, off and on,  from an early age. People who have this usually state they have felt down most of their lives. This kind of depression has been linked to chemical imbalances, hormones, early trauma, thinking patterns, and genetics. Long-term therapy, and sometimes medication, will help.

Symtoms of Depression

  • Feeling so down, it's difficult to do anything, even to handle life's necessities
  • Feeling hopeless about the future, relationships, friends, family or job
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in the activities that once gave meaning to life
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness
  • Significant weight change and/or change in appetite
  • Dramatic change in sleep, such as trouble falling to sleep or waking up during the night
  • Feeling restless or slowed down
  • Fatigue that makes it hard to make decisions or enjoy time with significant others
  • Diminished ability to think and concentrate
  • Irritability that seems unreasonable to events
  • Guilt for things that seem out of proportion to the actual event

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression occurring at a certain time of year, usually during the winter months. Though a few people have described having SAD during summer months.  Factors that make SAD more likely are the amount of light a person receives, body temperature, genes, and hormones.  Often, people will describe having experienced traumatic events at certain times of the year, particularly the holidays.   When the season comes around again and the weather changes,  the person is triggered to old feelings and memories of the traumatic time. 

Therapy is often helpful for relieving SAD triggered by trauma, and for helping to change thought patterns associated with SAD.

Symptoms usually build up slowly in the late autumn and winter months. Symptoms are usually the same as with depression:

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other types of depression)
  • Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness (too little sleep is more common with other types of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

Call today to schedule an appointment.
Michelle Wambach, Psy.D.
Licensed Marriage Family Therapist
MFC 41571
4020 Moorpark Avenue, Suite 206
San Jose, California 95117
(408) 247-7909

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