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Is the Coronavirus intensifying your depression symptoms?

 If you’re feeling more depressed than usual, you’re not alone. Even if you or your family hasn’t been personally affected by the virus,      uncertainty about how this is going to affect your health and financial situation in the future can be overwhelming. 

  We’re all struggling to cope with this situation, and it can be especially difficult for those who already struggle with depression. Social       distancing and isolation can cause you to feel trapped, sad, and lonely, even if you have others around you. Media coverage and a lack of clear, concrete answers can also increase already heightened levels of anxiety and depression.

  Online therapy can help you reclaim your ability to respond freely and creatively to the current situation. 

  Reach out if you would like to talk to see if working together makes sense.

Depression Treatment

Are you feeling depressed?

depressed woman

Are you feeling apathetic or hopeless?  Have you lost interest in things you previously enjoyed?  Do you sleep a lot or have a hard time sleeping?  Is it hard to concentrate or make decisions?

Do you find that you feel irritated a lot and get angry easily?  Or, are you crying more than usual?  Perhaps you are really hard on yourself, even for little things.  Does life feel meaningless or filled with despair?

We all feel down or sad at times. It is part of our shared human experience. However, a seemingly never-ending sadness or despair may mean you are suffering unnecessarily from depression. Depression impacts us on many levels and can leave us exhausted and drained…making it hard to complete even the simplest of tasks. We also tend to isolate when feeling down, making it difficult to reach out to others when we most need support.

But, there is hope! Depression treatment with a skilled, experienced therapist can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself and life.

If you are struggling with the symptoms of depression, you are not alone.

According the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 16,000,000 people in the United States suffer from symptoms of depression in any given year. Women are twice as likely as men to get depressed. Financial stress, health problems, the loss of a loved one, social isolation, childhood abuse and neglect and long term caretaking of a sick family member are just some of the factors that can contribute to your distress.

Depression treatment can help you feel more alive, confident and engaged in life again.

woman working in the darkWe all have an inherent capacity to heal. As a therapist specializing in treatment for depression, I help you access your own inner wisdom and resources for healing. Together, we will explore the patterns that are causing you distress by bringing awareness, curiosity and compassion to whatever arises. My approach is holistic and includes methods from Somatic Therapy, Applied Existential Psychotherapy, Mindfulness, and Focusing-Oriented Therapy. In addition, my work is informed by the latest discoveries in Interpersonal Neurobiology and brain science.

After taking an initial history, we will explore the roots of your depression as they show themselves in the here and now. Since the key to what is going on is often found in our bodies, I integrate body awareness into our work together. In a session, I not only listen empathically to the content of what you are sharing, I also help you to become aware of what your body is communicating. For example, I might ask you to pause when you are sharing to take note of what you are sensing in your body. Or, I might possibly bring your awareness to your breathing, posture or the gestures you are making. By including the body in therapy, we can unlock the healing wisdom that our bodies hold.

Depression often masks deeper emotions that may have been too overwhelming to allow yourself to feel in the past. Or, it might simply have been unsafe to fully express your feelings in the environment you were in.  Creating a safe, non-judgmental and compassionate environment is of utmost importance to me as a therapist.  You get to choose how much and at what pace you want to reveal these deeper aspects of yourself.  In this safe and respectful space, you can begin to experience these feelings in a way in which you can integrate them.

Our tendency as humans is to avoid, push away or suppress painful feelings. However, we actually free ourselves from depressive states by learning to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, including our anger, shame, grief and fear. In therapy sessions, we do this slowly and mindfully, in a way that leads to integration rather than overwhelm. As your window of tolerance grows for uncomfortable inner states, so does your capacity to experience greater joy and happiness.

two woman hugging and cutting vegetablesA goal of therapy is to reclaim our ability to respond freely and creatively to present circumstances rather than reacting out of our past wounding. In counseling sessions, I don’t ask you to dig up the past for me to analyze it. Rather, I assist you to deepen into the past as it is impacting the present moment. As we work together to do this, it is easier to become aware of and dissolve the patterns we put in place a long time ago. These patterns may have kept us safe at one time, but they might now imprison us. With greater understanding and a fuller perspective, self-compassion comes naturally as does the freedom to make new choices.

Even if you feel hopeless right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Reaching out for help is a courageous first step. With the support that an effective therapeutic relationship provides, you can feel whole again. I have over 15 years of experience helping people just like you to feel better. With my holistic, existential approach, you can achieve long lasting, core-level changes in the way you experience yourself and the world around you.  Although it may be hard to seek help, it is definitely worth it.

You still might have questions or concerns about getting treatment for depression..

I feel ashamed that I’m not able to do this on my own.  Isn’t it a sign of personal weakness that I can’t just get over my depression?  

It actually takes courage to admit that you are struggling rather than continue to hide it from others.  It takes even more strength to seek out help.  Although our culture puts a huge stress on being independent, recent discoveries in brain science show that humans need the support of others when distressed.  When we turn to a compassionate, accepting other, we return back to feeling in balance and ourselves much more quickly.  Believing you should just ‘get over it, when you can’t, creates even more shame, which feeds depression.  Depression treatment can provide not only the support, compassion and acceptance of another human being, it can give you vital skills and processes to work through your feelings and give you long lasting relief.

Therapy didn’t work for me when I tried it before.

How well therapy works for you depends on many factors.  Some of these factors include whether or not you had good rapport with the therapist, the therapeutic methods that were used, the length of time you attended and your state of being at the time.  First of all, it is very important that you feel comfortable with me and that you feel you can speak up if you don’t.  That is why I offer a free consultation so that you can experience that for yourself before you make an investment in therapy.  Secondly, my approach is holistic and eclectic.  It includes modalities that address not only your thoughts and emotions but also your body sensations.  We explore what works best for you.

man looking at mountains at sunsetIs getting treatment for depression worth the investment?

Going to therapy is an investment in your well being and in your self care.  If you are feeling better, you will not only better the quality of your relationships and improve your ability to function, you will be able to enjoy your life!  In counseling, you can also learn skills that can prevent you from falling back into depression in the future.  Psychotherapy is a worthwhile investment in you and your quality of life.

Depression Blog Posts
  • depressed=African-american-woman

    What’s next? It may feel as if you’ve been asking that question every single day for the past 10 months. You’ve endured a global pandemic, stifling lockdown, economic crisis, social unrest, political division, and so much more. In between each of those extra-large events, you are always dealing with the collective fallout. So, what’s next? How about the negative link between isolation and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Isolation has been imposed upon us. But this is not happening in a vacuum. There are countless other factors in play, e.g. SAD. What is SAD? Seasonal Affective D (SAD) disorder is a form of depression. Typically, it begins and ends in conjunction with the changes of seasons. Most cases of SAD relate to the winter when the number of daylight hours decreases. Some folks experience seasonal depression in the summer months. Common SAD symptoms include: Shifts in eating habits, e.g. appetite changes, craving foods high in carbohydrates, and weight gain Sleep disturbances, oversleeping Feeling low-energy or sluggish Agitation, difficulty staying focused Losing interest in hobbies or other activities you previously enjoyed In more severe cases, people with SAD will feel depressed nearly every day. The Negative Link Between Isolation and Seasonal Affective Disorder Sometimes, people choose isolation or even silence. They may even go on retreats to seek out these sensory experiences. COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns imposed such changes without warning and without our “permission.” As a result, our social patterns have been severely interrupted. For example: Working from home Loss of daily routines and rituals Socializing via digital means Virtual schooling Holidays and events left uncelebrated The mere act of visiting someone who is sick or lonely is seen as dangerous Some social norms may be altered forever. Even those that will eventually return may still feel like they’re a long way away. On its own, these developments are enough to induce mental stress and possibly, depression. We are now seeing the outcome when quarantines meet SAD. People are not only lonely and depressed. They are also confused and resentful. It feels like we get contradictory advice on a daily basis and this is adding to the problem. Some self-help options to consider are: Getting sunshine in the early morning hours Daily exercise and activity Maintain regular sleep patterns Make healthy eating choices Stay connected — virtually at least — with people who support you Practice gratitude Practice mindfulness Another powerful is step is to take regular breaks from your device. Your news feed can be an hourly source of stress. It adds to feelings like paranoia and resentment. It also fuels the sense that you are missing out more than anyone else. Schedule in tech breaks throughout your day. Use that time instead to seek out sources of joy and laughter. You may need to talk with someone about all this (see below). But, in the meantime, create balance. What’s Next? Perhaps the most productive “next” thing would be to accept what is and isn’t under your control. Most of the events described above are beyond your influence. However, you certainly have the power to seek solutions. Thus, “what’s next” for you could be making a commitment to depression treatment. Issues like isolation, depression, and anxiety are never to be taken lightly. Working with a seasoned guide allows you to explore such problems and the underlying factors that help create them. If this sounds like something you need, please read more about depression treatment. I am here to help. I now offer online video sessions that can be catered to your current needs and situation. Let’s get things started by scheduling a confidential consultation soon. Click here to find out more about depression treatment. If you would like to schedule a free consultation,  please click here. Kate Kendrick is a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety treatment, depression treatment and couples therapy in Longmont, Colorado

  • Woman having panic attack

    Current events seem like reason enough to feel triggered and tense these days. You feel edgy, you’re having sleep issues, and perhaps your mind keeps sinking into a dark place. It’s logical to look for factors in your present life. But, quite often, the problem is rooted in a much deeper plane. What’s happening during the pandemic may be aggravating long-term trauma you hold inside. That’s not to say that today isn’t tough. Far from it. What hidden trauma can create, due to underlying and unaddressed causes, is a situation where the stress of today is even more tough to bear. How Trauma Gets Stuck Inside of You When you go through a traumatic experience, the impact on your brain and physiology can cause some of the following symptoms: Difficulty regulating emotions: Your stress hormones may stay elevated. This impacts your sympathetic nervous system in a way that fatigues your body systems — leaving you “stuck” in a highly activated state. Hyper-vigilance: The amygdala is like a smoke alarm.  It is the part of the brain that identifies threats so your brain can tag such memories with the necessary emotion. Trauma can lock the amygdala into the “on” position. You suddenly perceive threats everywhere. Being stuck in the past: Trauma causes an increase in a stress hormone called glucocorticoid. This impacts your memory’s ability to eventually recognize the threat as something from the past. The threat feels present. Thus, when you are triggered, your body is responding as if the threat is happening now. The stress of the actual experience plus the legacy of the trauma can lead you feeling as if: You’ll never recover The trauma is your defining characteristic Everything you experience is viewed through the lens of the past Begin the Process of Getting Un-Stuck From Your Trauma Dealing with something like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is difficult and often requires help from a trained mental health professional. That said, there are some self-care steps you can begin taking ASAP. These may include: Sleep: Maintain regular and sufficient sleep patterns. Get to bed and awaken at roughly the same time each day. Eat: Make healthy choices. Take time to shop and cook and make your meals into a full experience. Consult a nutrition expert if you feel unsure how to do this. Exercise: Daily activity is a must! Find something that lights you up and get moving. Relaxation techniques: Classic approaches include yoga, stress management, breathing exercises, and meditation. But feel free to get creative. Whatever works for you is best. Tech breaks: Put down your devices and let your mind reset. Prioritize yourself in other ways: Pay attention to your sensory needs. You may crave a warm bath, a long walk, your favorite music, some time in the local coffee shop, or a cuddle with your pet and/or partner. Honor those desires. The above steps can help you in two ways: Self-care is, by design, meant to soothe, calm, nourish, and rejuvenate. Engaging in self-care reminds you that you are worth the attention, and it brings you into the present moment — away from the past that is trying to keep you stuck. Dealing With Trauma is NOT a Solo Journey The legacy of trauma and PTSD are challenging to live with. The choices you make and the self-care you practice are indispensable. However, as mentioned above, it is hard to manage years or decades worth of repressed feelings on your own.  Trauma often needs a relational home to heal.  For many people, therapy has proven to be the path to recovery. You and your psychotherapist will work as a team to discern what current situations are vexing you and what lingering problems are complicating things. Combining this with your self-help measures is a proven process of discovery and healing. Please contact me soon for a consultation. To learn more about anxiety and trauma treatment in Longmont, CO, click here. If you would like to explore therapy to assist you, please contact me to set up free 30 minute consultation soon.

  • Woman of color being shamed

    Word choice matters. We are all learning this more and more often — and it goes double in 2020. In psychological terms, it’s also essential that we properly identify our emotions. Along those lines, let’s do away with any belief that guilt and shame are “kinda-sorta” the same things. They are, in fact, two very distinct feelings and experiences. On top of that, the essence of guilt must be clarified because it can be either healthy or unhealthy. This is not merely semantics. It is not splitting hairs. Understanding the difference between shame and guilt is crucial to our wellbeing. Let’s Start with Shame Shame can be quite a challenge to accept and address. Shame, it is thought,  is hard-wired in our brains when we are as young as 15 months. Once it is internalized, a sense of shame can dramatically influence how you see and treat yourself. Furthermore, shame is more based on belief than reason. The belief at its root is that you are inherently and uniquely flawed in your essence… even to the point of being worthless. The outcomes of this mindset are entirely negative and manifest in behaviors like: Avoidance Social withdrawal Intense fear of rejection Unchecked, shame has been shown to lead to more severe problems like depression and substance abuse. Strategies to Address Shame It is crucial that shame is acknowledged and compassionately addressed. How? The following steps are a productive start: Counter shame with relentless self-compassion Talk to yourself as you would talk to a loved one in crisis Challenge the validity of your internal monologue Ask for evidence when your inner critic lashes out Take steps toward widening your social circle Develop relationships and a sense of belonging Unhealthy Guilt Experienced as early as age three, unhealthy guilt is founded on some unreasonable expectations. You set irrational standards in our childhood, hoping to please the adults in your life. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, you can never reach those standards as you yourself grow into an adult. The resulting feeling is profound and debilitating emotional discomfort. Until you address these long-term irrational beliefs, unhealthy guilt will provide you with consistently negative outcomes. You are trapped by this self-imposed cycle. When unhealthy guilt strikes, you find yourself more likely to engage in self-punishment than in any kind of introspection. Rather than ponder what needs to be changed, you sink deeper into the pattern. Steps to Address Unhealthy Guilt Once again, two major steps are the cultivation of self-compassion and the development of healthy relationships Identify your strengths along with your weaknesses Recognize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses Clarify whether or not your expectations of yourself are reasonable or not Healthy Guilt Also called “helpful guilt,” this emotion arises when you’ve done something that is objectively wrong. Developed as young as 3 years old, healthy guilt is a mostly rational response to your own behavior and actions. Everyone messes up at times and it is natural to feel like you’ve disappointed yourself. You broke your own moral code and, as a result, you’re feeling some psychological discomfort. For the most part, this outcome is positive. Healthy guilt puts you in a position to repair any damage you’ve done and to seek forgiveness. Steps to Address Healthy Guilt Own up to your actions Take responsibility Authentically apologize Show remorse Do the work to change the mindset that led to the transgression Heal your connection with the people involved Talk to Someone You Can Trust Sorting out emotions like guilt and shame is very challenging work — especially in an age teeming with false information. It only makes sense that you would choose to seek out a trusted expert to serve as your guide. Working with an experienced counselor provides you with a safe space to explore emotions, their causes, and their outcomes. Regular therapy sessions can help you identify the thoughts and patterns that are shaping you. Please read more about possible therapy options and contact me to set up a free 30-minute consultation soon.

  • Depressed man sitting in window

    Identifying the causes of your depression, or a loved one’s isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes, of course, it can be clear. But often, a tangle of factors contribute to the diagnosis.If you think you may be depressed or have recently begun treatment for depression, you’re likely looking for more answers. There may be contributing causes you haven’t thought of or weren’t aware of.Some causes are easier to treat than others. Others may require a more in-depth approach. Educating yourself is an essential first step. Stress, Trauma, and Loss Chronic stress or acute trauma and loss, especially in the age of coronavirus, can sideline even the most emotionally resilient person. One’s health crisis or that of a family member likewise can cause emotional distress. Because of the spread of COVID-19, we in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has seen in over 100 years.   The threat of falling ill or dying from COVID-19 is front and center for many of us.  Being faced with a very real threat each time we leave the house, needing to socially isolate ourselves from one another and being exposed through the media to heartbreaking stories can lead to a state of chronic stress. The threat of losing our source of income or working every day in a business that is deemed essential in an environment in which the coronavirus is present can take a toll.  Add to that, having your kids at home all day and feeling responsible to monitor their online schooling can be overwhelming. Even if we take coronavirus out of the picture, significant changes such as divorce, death, job loss, or moving, often lead to grief. This response is normal, of course, but if grief becomes overwhelming and prolonged, there is a possibility you are dealing with depression. Early Childhood Environment One’s experiences during childhood can contribute to depression. If your mother suffered from untreated postpartum depression when you were an infant, you may be more at risk to experience major depression yourself.  In addition, growing up in a dysfunctional, turbulent family can lead to many emotional struggles. Sadly, parents aren’t always able to provide a stable, nurturing environment kids need for healthy psychological development. Abuse, trauma, neglect, parental addiction, relationship drama, and stress during these years are harmful in more ways than one. You can see that this is another way in which depression can run in families. If one generation can’t provide for the emotional needs of its children, the cycle can easily continue Genetics Researchers and depressed individuals alike have noted that depression often runs through more than one generation of a family. Scientists believe that sometimes genetics can influence the likelihood of becoming depressed. The precise manner of how genes work to cause depression isn’t completely understood yet, however. Intriguingly, they suspect that different genes can cause depression in different ways. Anxiety disorders may also have a genetic component.   Underlying Physiological Reasons Sometimes, depression or depression-like symptoms have underlying physiological causes. An underactive thyroid can contribute to depression. Hormones The fluctuating hormones associated with the menstrual cycle can also wreak havoc with a woman’s emotions. Likewise, the hormones present during pregnancy and after delivery can cause depression. Men can also experience hormone changes or deficiencies that contribute to depression. Vitamin Deficiency Vitamin deficiencies are another possible physiological cause. Vitamins B12 and D are vital for energy and mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can occur in the winter months when sunlight is limited, and our bodies don’t receive as much natural Vitamin D. Low iron can also create depression-like symptoms such as fatigue. Diet Consuming too much sugar and processed food also doesn’t help. Our bodies need whole nutrition that will support the proper functioning of our systems. Unfortunately, sometimes even a doctor or therapist will miss part of the depression puzzle as well. As we’ve discussed, there are many causes. Ask for a full physical with labs to look for underlying causes. Treatment Options Untangling the cause of depression can seem complicated. Thankfully, no matter the reason, many treatment options are available. Therapy, exercise, support groups and more are proven ways of finding relief. No matter what has triggered your depression, it’s crucial to get help early. Addressing it sooner rather than later can keep it from worsening. — Even if you feel stuck and hopeless, please know that healing is possible. I have extensive experience in helping those with depression move forward into a brighter future. Together, we can address your symptoms and provide you with invaluable skills and resources. Please reach out today.

  • symptoms of post traumatic stress disorcder

    If you’ve had a traumatic experience lately, your mind and body need time to recover.  If you’ve had a traumatic experience in the past,  you may still be affected by the event even now. A “traumatic experience” qualifies as an event or series of events that have profoundly scared or hurt you in some way—a car accident, assault, abusive relationship, etc. It’s not uncommon or abnormal to require some time and help to adjust to life again after the fact. The stress created from traumatic event can fade away over time, or it can last for years in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you think you might have PTSD, here are a few signs to watch out for. How to Recognize the Signs of Psychological Trauma Because experiencing trauma activates the fight-or-flight mode, you may be living in a state of anxiety. As a result, it’s vital to practice self-awareness. Even documenting your everyday thoughts and actions will help you to spot some of the following symptoms you might otherwise try to ignore. Disturbing Memories You may experience recurring and stressful memories of the event. Sometimes you might even feel as though you are reliving the event, which psychologists call flashbacks. These can happen at any time. Frequent Nightmares Similar to flashbacks, nightmares about the event may happen regularly. These dreams may be upsetting and make you afraid of going to sleep at night. Experiencing Triggers You may find yourself reminded of the traumatic event by a certain song, smell, person or environment. For example, if you were in a serious car accident after being hit by a red car, you may notice your heart rate increasing any time you see a red car (even if it’s not that red car). Practicing Avoidance If you’re afraid of situations that may cause triggers, you might avoid activities and places that you used to enjoy. Harder still, you may try to avoid certain thoughts that remind you of the event. The problem is, this can have the unintended effect of creating an “elephant in the room.” The more you try to avoid the thoughts, the more you end up thinking them. It’s the ultimate Catch-22. Persistent Negative Mood Surviving a trauma may cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself or about the world. You may feel hopeless about your future, not sure if you can stay safe. Perhaps you’re experiencing a sense of detachment from your family, close friends, or your significant other. As a result, you have isolated yourself from those who can possibly help you through this awful experience. Signs of Depression PTSD tends to mimic signs of depression. You may feel guilty about feeling happy or intense survivor’s guilt. Or maybe you’ve been having trouble feeling much of anything at all. If you could describe your emotions, perhaps the first word that comes to mind is “numb.” Nothing seems to affect you anymore, positively or negatively. Heightened Sense of Arousal On the other end of the emotional spectrum, perhaps you feel your emotions a bit more intensely than you used to. Every little sound might make you jump. You might feel that you have to always be on guard against danger. Anxieties might be extra sensitive, even in situations that are completely benign. Suicidal Thoughts At worst, PTSD symptoms can trigger suicidal thoughts. Talking to a mental health professional or someone else that you trust, can help you work through these feelings and thoughts. When Should You Seek Help? If your trauma symptoms persist for longer than a month and are affecting your ability to function, you may want to reach out to a therapist. Treatment for PTSD can help resolve the trauma at a physiological and spiritual level so that you can get your life back. Things may seem hopeless right now, but you can begin to feel good again. — A therapist can help you better understand the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and help you rebuild your life.  If you would like to set up a free consultation to see how I might be able to help you, please contact me soon. Anxiety Treatment             Depression Treatment