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Depression: It’s Not Just About Being Sad

October 1, 2012


This week, October 1-7, is San Diego Depression Screening Week.  Free screenings, as well as a wealth of information, are being shared throughout San Diego County, thanks to a collaborative effort between The Community Health Improvement Partners’ (CHIP) Behavioral Health Work Team and numerous San Diego County organizations, including Vista Hill SmartCare.  This is an opportunity to reach out to as many people as we can, not only to educate, but to encourage those who may be suffering from depression to connect with those who can offer assistance.

We all experience the normal “ups and downs” that go along with the challenges of daily stressors.  Sadness can be a normal reaction to life’s difficulties.  But depression is much more than just sadness: it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep and enjoy those things you normally take pleasure in.  The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness are intense and overwhelming, with little, if any relief. 

Common signs and symptoms of depression include:

            Feelings of helpless and hopelessness

            Loss of interest in daily activities

            Change of appetite; significant weight loss or gain

            Problems with sleeping; either too much or too little

            Feeling irritated and agitated, feeling fatigued, no energy

            Problems concentrating

            Physical Complaints

Depression can affect people of all ages, but may look very different from person to person.  A child may act out, a teen may be grumpy or hostile, an older adult may complain of physical symptoms, a man may be more irritable, a woman more withdrawn. 

As a Prevention Program, SmartCare encourages all new patients to be aware of ways to prevent or minimize depression.  Rosanna Gordon identifies these 5 ways to prevent depression:

  1.  Know your triggers
  2. Clean up your diet
  3. Be around positive, energized people
  4. Do a little yoga
  5. Keep actively involved

Those of us at SmartCare, as well as our collaborative partners, support a holistic approach to the treatment of depression.  We encourage a review of any physical/medical contributions to your symptoms.  We address social and familial stressors as well as thought processes in brief therapy.  We help to identify strengths and natural support systems.  We address diet and encourage physical activity.  We offer mindfulness exercises.  We refer for a psychiatric consultation, if appropriate.

The first steps for alleviating depression are identification, and then accessing assistance.  Please help us get the word out that help is available, not only this week, but any time. 

 Pamela Bryson, LCSW

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