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Depression and Anxiety

Depression has been recorded to affect more that 15 million people over the age of 18 in the United States (ADAA.org). The symptoms of depression vary from individual to individual. It may present uniquely amongst culture, gender, religion, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The one characteristic that is common and consistent is that all people may have the opportunity to be impacted either directly or indirectly by this illness. Further evaluation for the possibility of a diagnosis of depression is expected when the following are present: diminished interest in activities; decreased motivation; lack of energy; cognitive lapses (poor focus); memory lapses; increased anger; increased irritability; feelings of darkness, low self-worth and emptiness (inability to “picture” your future); suicidal thoughts; self-harming thoughts and/or behavior; significant change in sleep and/or appetite. The duration of symptoms varies from person to person. In addition, the clinical picture of depression’s impact on daily functioning of an individual has a wide variance.

Anxiety also takes a toll on the American people. Recent statistics show that it impacts 3.3 million people in the U.S. over the age of 18 (ADAA.org). Having co-occurring physical ailments when diagnosed with anxiety can be common which can exacerbate the illness and complicate the treatment. Some of the prevailing types of anxiety disorders are the following: Separation Anxiety Disorder; Selective Mutism; Specific Phobia; Social Anxiety Disorder; Panic Disorder; and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Before the release of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder fell under the category of Anxiety Disorder. They now have their own separate categories listed in the DSM. The overall common symptomology is one of increased edgy, restless, hypervigilant awareness; marked fear or anxiety about a situation and/or thing; easily fatigued; difficulty concentrating or mind going blank; extreme avoidance of a situation that creates distress. The physical symptoms can range from numbness, tingling, stomach aches; heart palpitations, headaches, sweating, feeling faint, and nausea.

Treatment for these illnesses begins with a safe environment and a trusting rapport with a skilled clinician. Employing interventions from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps the client look at the relationship between the trigger (the inciting situation), the feelings, the thoughts, and the response. Interrupting the distortion of thought allows room for positive change. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) aids the client in being present to tolerate distress, work on interpersonal issues and regulate emotions. When practicing DBT, there are less incidents of self-harm and greater opportunities for connection. The blending of these two therapies have proven to have successful results in minimizing the symptomology of depression and anxiety. I look forward to working with my clients and engaging them in these therapeutic strategies to improve their lives.

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