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What is Depression?

As a licensed mental health therapist I treat individuals with a variety of conditions. A very common mental health condition is that of depression. Depression is also known as clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder by the DSM-5 (APA, 2013).

Depression is a mood disorder and is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities. According to the Mayo Clinic (2016), symptoms of depression are as follows:

-Sadness, tearfulness, hopelessness

-Angry outbursts, irritability, frustration

-Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all activities

-Sleep disturbances (Insomnia or sleep too much)

-Fatigue, loss of energy

-Change in appetite

-Anxiety, restlessness

-Difficulty thinking, concentrating

-Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, attempts or suicide

Many individuals who suffer from depression may tell themselves that it will pass, and do not seek help. Many live for years with the symptoms of depression and they never seek treatment.

Alternatively, some choose to self-medicate with alcohol and/or substances. However, self-medicating is not a way that I would recommend an individual address their depression.

Some individuals have lived with a persistent, chronic (on-going) low grade (less severe) depression. These individuals may be suffering from Dysthymia. To be diagnosed with Dysthymia, a child or a teen must be exhibiting symptoms for 1-year, and 2-years for adults.

So, if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from Dysthymia or Major Depressive Disorder, please seek professional help, or refer them to someone who can help them. A resources that can be of great value to someone suffering from depression in the Los Angeles Area is to dial 211. One can dial 911 in the event of a psychiatric emergency. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Talk to someone; Tell a family member or a friend how you are feeling. We all need help sometimes and if you do not feel comfortable talking to someone who is close to you, contact one of the resources that I listed above. You will be happy that you did. Remember to take things one day at a time and make your life and environment as positive as it can be.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

Mayo Clinic. (2016). Depression.

Suicide Prevention Hotline. (2017). Suicide Prevention.

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