Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Searching for Happiness?

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Could the pursuit for happiness be a major factor in the feelings of sadness and depression? This may sound like a strange question for a therapist to ask, but I like to get people thinking of things they may not be inclined to consider.

Let me say one thing: If you are experiencing depression or sadness, which are different, I have been there. This is in no way a commentary on your personal experience.

A Google search for “happiness” will give you, within a half a second, 327 million results.happiness-img

If happiness was something to be found, we could find it easily with that much information available. Yet here we are in the 21st century, and judging by titles in the self-help section, happiness continues to be elusive. According to the World Health Organization and other studies, as many as 9.5 percent of adults experience symptoms of major depression in any given year. These studies also identify depression as the leading cause of disability in the United States. Fifty years ago, the average age of onset was 29. Today it is fourteen. How can this be?

Parents are focusing more on giving their children everything they want to “make them happy” and “build their self-esteem.” We read the latest books promising a road to happiness for our self and our children. We purchase all the material items a commercial tells us will make us happy. Like changing shoes, men and women change families with the discomfort of their “happiness” being threatened.

Back to the question.

Could the search for happiness be a major factor in the increasing rate of depression? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Over 50 years ago, people were less focused on being happy and more focused on doing the right thing based on their values. Happiness was not mentioned as a primary motivator.
  2. When we search for happiness, it’s a thing to be found. A thing found can also be lost or stolen, which implies that it is outside of ourselves and out of our control. It’s why we look for it in other people, drugs, alcohol, religion (I mean the rules, not the relationship with God), or any other myriad of addictions.
  3. Those people who seek to become healthy – physically, relationally, mentally, spiritually – usually report higher levels of life satisfaction than those who seek to find “happiness.” People who look strive for health find happiness. People who strive for happiness find neither happiness nor health.

Focusing on happiness to get you “out” may be like searching for a home by looking exclusively at the paint color in the closet. If you are experiencing sadness, grief, or a Major Depressive Disorder, please understand that you can overcome.

Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Surround yourself with safe people that will challenge you to grow in those areas and who will accept your challenges as well.

Just remember, “happiness” is a byproduct not a thing to be found or the end goal.

If you find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to find happiness or satisfaction or a relationship that is not as fulfilling as you hoped, come see us. We can help.

Chris R. Giles, MS, LMFT


Causes of Depression

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Depressed womanDepression may be caused by one or more factors. One factor contributing to depression is a bio-chemical or other medical disorder. These may include a genetic predisposition toward depression as evidenced by a family history of depression. Medical disorders such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, blood sugar disorders such as hypoglycemia, cancer and hormonal imbalances have also been known to contribute to depression. Depression may result from the side affects of some prescribed medications, or from the abuse of substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs.

Cognition plays a major role in depression. Faulty thoughts, hopelessness, helplessness, and self-depreciating thoughts significantly increase vulnerability to depression.

Family factors such as marital discord, lack of intimacy, spouse abuse, problems in raising children, and unresolved conflict may contribute to depression. Learning the role in the family of being helpless and sick may also contribute to depression. Depression may result from other forms of family dysfunction such as incest, chemical dependency in a family member, neglect, or abandonment.

Misdirected anger can cause depression. Inability to manage anger, thoughts full of revenge, bitterness toward others, or a sense of feeling abused may contribute to depression. In addition, anger directed at self, self-punishment, and self-blame over past failures or sin may produce depression.

Spiritual causes of depression include separation from God, emptiness resulting from a failure to come to a knowledge of God, unforgiveness toward oneself or others, unrepentant sin, and faulty theology. Distortion in Biblical doctrine can lead a person to hopelessness, i.e. believing one has committed the unpardonable sin, salvation by works, etc.

Regarless of the cause, you don’t have to live with depression.  We can help.  Call 918-745-0095 to schedule an appointment today.

Dale Doty, Ph.D.

(Additional articles on depression.)

How Many Kinds of Depression Are There?

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

depressionThere are many different types of depression. We will look at four major categories of depression.

Brief reactive depression. This type of depression is often known as grief, and occurs in response to a variety of losses including the loss of a loved one, friend, the loss of a job, the loss of physical health, a major financial set-back, or a response to life changes such as a promotion. Reactive depression, or grief, may initially be severe with symptoms gradually lessening over time. A significant loss such as the death of a child, or unexpected divorce, may take people up to two years to recover significant levels of functioning. Reactive depression may include sad mood, anger, and any of the other depressive symptoms listed above.

Major Depression. Major depressive episodes are severe and incapacitating. During major depression people are often unable to function at school, work, or take care of responsibilities. Major depression can be triggered by stressful events or significant loss. Major depression can be categorized as mild, moderate, severe, or severe with psychotic features. During a major depressive episode the mood is significantly more depressed and there is a significant increase in symptoms over a person’s normal pattern. Generally during a major depression, clients do not experience good days. Once a person recovers from a major depressive episode, they may never experience depression again, or the depression may be recur.

Dysthymia (Chronic Low Grade Depression). Dysthymia is often characterized by poor self-esteem, self-depreciation, guilt, hopelessness, worry, and helplessness. Symptoms may also include any of the others symptoms from the checklist above. Dysthymia is generally a chronic condition lasting for many months to an entire lifetime. Generally symptoms of dysthymia are less severe than major depression. There may be good periods, but these are generally of short duration.

Bipolar (Manic-Depressive) Disorder. In manic depressive episodes there are wide mood swings that include severe symptoms of depression as indicated above, with alternating periods of manic behavior. Symptoms of a manic episode include:

  • a significantly elevated mood
  • symptoms of extremely high self-esteem or grandiosity
  • decreased need for sleep
    being more talkative than usual, difficulty being quiet
  • extreme distractibility
  • difficulty controlling extreme and excessive urges to: spend money, engage in sexual behavior, or other out of control behaviors

In order to be diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder, a person must have experienced alternating periods of severe depression and manic behavior or mood. For some people with manic-depressive disorder, the mood may switch from extreme depression to extremely elevated mood in just a few minutes. For other people with manic-depressive disorder, the mood swing from extreme low to extreme high may take months or years with periods of relative normal functioning in between.

Often the client experiencing a manic episode does not recognize that there is anything abnormal about their mood or behavior. They report “feeling good.” Family members are the most distressed and recognize that something is wrong.

Getting Help With Depression. Help starts with a clear diagnosis.  We need to understand which type of depression you have in order to come up with an effective action plan. Call today (918-745-0095) and we can help you start the process to overcome depression.

Dale Doty, PH.D.

(Additional articles on depression can be found here.)

Is My Child Depressed?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

It is difficult to know how many children (pre-teens) suffer from depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that, at any given time, 11% of children under the age of 18 meet the diagnostic criteria for Depression. We know that girls are more likely than boys to suffer from depression and that the risk increases as the child becomes older. But these numbers include teenagers; it is hard to find statistics for children from pre-K through age 12.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode include:

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities.
  • Significant weight loss weight gain.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness guilt.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), suicidal thoughts either with or without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt.

Adults and teens can talk about how they feel. The younger the child, the less they are able to verbalize feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness. Instead, children act out their feelings instead of talking about them.

The depressed child may be more irritable and angry than sad. They may be clingy, sulky, or grouchy. It was once thought that all depressed children hid or masked their depression with anger, but we now know that some kids do indeed look sad and blue.

The main things to look for are:

1. Changes in social activities.
2. Loss of interest in school.
3. Changes in academic performance.
4. Physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches that don’t respond to treatment.
5. Crying spells for no or little apparent reason.

Treatment options for depressed children are the same as for adults – counseling and medication. For children, we are more likely to recommend family counseling than individual counseling. Medications may be helpful but generally we want to try counseling first and are slower to refer to a physician for medication.

written by G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.
more articles on depression



Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

(part 1; part 2)

While there are occasions when someone may significantly hurt him or herself “out of the blue”, most cases involve warning signs. The problem is that most of us don’t notice them! There are a few things you can be looking for. First, and foremost is a significant change in behavior, such as increased drug use, moodiness that appears to be over and above “normal”, withdrawal from either friends or family, and an increase in impulsive high-risk behaviors (Debski et al., 2007).

Perhaps most common is the proverbial “change in friends.” Rather than spending time with the friends your teenager has had since the 5th grade, he or she may begin to bring some “new” kids over to the house. While it is good for your teenager to branch out, meet new people and make new friends, most often this group of friends is the one your parents told you about when you were a teenager. They look and act in a manner inconsistent with your values and will often result in you making statements like “I just don’t like his friends” and “things really started to change when ‘so and so’ started coming around.” While a significant change in friends does not mean your teenager is thinking about suicide, this change often comes with many of the other warning signs such as doing drugs, the onset of a depressed mood, a drop in school performance, and run-in’s with the police.

Second, making statements about suicide or expressing some type of preoccupation with death should be taken seriously. For some these types of behaviors can become so common that you may begin to ignore them. If you find this to be the case, please consult a mental health specialist immediately. Suicidal statements, even those that are passive in nature (ie. “you guys would be better off without me”), need to be taken seriously and addressed directly. Some studies have found that as many as 83% of teenagers who successfully killed themselves made a verbal threat to do so during the week prior to completion (Brent, 1995, as cited by Rubin, Wainrib, & Bloch, 1998).

Because depression is so closely related to suicide, the symptoms of depression and teenage suicide should be closely monitored. Symptoms include (Debski et al., 2007):

Major changes in eating or sleeping habits (too much or too little of either)
Expressions of hopelessness, guilt, shame, or worthlessness
Intense anger toward self and/or others
Drop in school performance
Loss of interest in usual activities (ie. quiting the football team)

Studies have shown that teenagers who deliberately hurt themselves (i.e. cutting) are 4 to 10 times more likely to die (Goldachre, & Hawton, 1985; Hawton & Harris, 2007, both as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009) and as many as 70% of teenagers who reported an act of self-harm also reported at least one suicide attempt (55% reported multiple attempts) (Nock, Joiner, Gordon, Lloyd-Richardson, & Prinstein, 2006, as cited by Hargus, Hawton, & Rodham, 2009). That is pretty alarming! You should take self-harming behaviors very seriously.

Significant changes in behavior, making suicidal statements, symptoms of depression, and cutting/self-harm are all behaviors that can very easily get “lost” in the day to day busyness of life. That is why it is so important for you to do what you can to connect with your teenager on a regular basis. Your teenager doesn’t need you to breath down their neck (and most likely will let you know this on regular basis) but they most definitely need and want the adults in their life to show them that they care.

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***


Debski, J., Spadafore, C. D., Jacob, S., Poole, D., & Hixon, M. D. (2007). Suicide intervention: Training, roles, and knowledge of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(2), 157-170.

Hargus, E., Hawton, K., Rodham, K. (2009). Distinguishing between subgroups of adolescents who self-harm. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviors, 39(5), 518-537.

Rubin Wanrib, B., Bloch, E. L. (1998). Crisis intervention and trauma response: Theory and response. Springer Pub, NY.

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by  Joe James, Psy.D.

(more articles on teenagers)


Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Unfortunately teenage suicide is relatively common. It is the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers (White, 1999), with thoughts of suicide occurring in as many as 29% of teens, 19% having made a plan, and as many as 8% having attempted (Brener, Krug, Simon, 2000; Kandel, Raveis, & Davies, 1991). Dealing with teenage suicide can be very difficult because it is affected by many factors that can change quickly making prediction very, very difficult. Adults and parents tend to downplay self-destructive behavior stating “its normal”, “I did the same thing when I was a kid”, and “they don’t mean it, they just want attention.” This kind of thinking can be a big mistake (White, 1999).

First and foremost, you need to be on the look out for symptoms of teenage depression. Teenage depression often looks a little different; irritability and aggression appear to be more common, especially in boys. Also a depressed teen may struggle with acting without thinking first. Depression accounts for up to ½ of all serious suicide attempts and needs to be taken seriously (Fergussion et al., 2003).
Depression often shows up in teenagers as:

  • Sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Change in eating habits (eating too much or too little)
  • Hyperactivity or loss of energy
  • Serious risk taking
  • Change in school performance
  • Thoughts of suicide or other morbid preoccupations
  • Adolescents may also present with significant irritability, sexuality, and physical symptoms (stomach pain, headaches etc.) (White, 1999)

Many of these symptoms of depression may come and go, that’s normal, however when a few of them come around and seem to have trouble leaving for a week or two something is up and action may need to taken to protect your child. Also, please know that prior suicide attempts place your child in a very high-risk category and you will need to speak with a mental health specialist regarding enacting an adequate Safety Plan to ensure your teenagers safety.

Second, you need to be looking for problems in your family that may be upsetting your teen such as:

  • Teenage or family history of abuse (physical, emotional, and especially sexual)
  • Low levels of family connection (ie. poor relationships with parents, severe conflict with siblings)
  • Significant changes in the family such as a parental divorce or separation, a major move to a new location, or the death of a loved one
  • Family violence
  • Parental drug and alcohol abuse
  • Parental contact with the law
  • Family history of suicide (Debski et al., 2007)

***Any advice given on this website is offered in generic form. In other words, all of our site visitors have unique qualities that play a role in their personal mental health. We do not know you personally and can therefore not take into consideration these qualities when offering advice, and do not claim to do so. All information provided on this site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing psychologist, mental health professional, teacher, or professor.***

Brener, N. D., Krug, E. G., Simon, T. R. (2000). Trends in suicide ideation and suicide behavior among high school students in the United States, 1991-1997. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 30, 304-312.

Debski, J., Spadafore, C. D., Jacob, S., Poole, D., & Hixon, M. D. (2007). Suicide intervention: Training, roles, and knowledge of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 44(2), 157-170.

Fergusson, D. M., Beautrais, A. L., & Horwood, L. J. (2003). Vulnerability and resiliency to suicidal behaviors in young people. Psychological Medicine, 33, 61-73.

Kandel, D. B., Raveis, V. H., & Davies, M. (1991). Suicidal ideation in adolescence: Depression, substance use, and other risk factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20, 289-309.

White, T. W. (1999). How to identify suicidal people: A systemic approach to risk assessment. The Charles Press Publishers, Inc., PA.

by  Joe James, Psy.D.

(more articles on teenagers)

What Causes Depression

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of a number of factors. Psychology textbooks like to talk about “nature versus nurture”: are people’s problems the result of genetics and brain chemistry (nature) or the result of family environment, life experiences, and choices (nurture)? The truth is that nearly all of human experience is some combination of both.


Depression is no different. If you ask your family doctor, she might tell you that depression is a “chemical imbalance”: there are not enough serotonin or dopamine molecules hanging around in your brain waiting to be used. The solution for a chemical imbalance is – medication.

A counselor might tell you that depression is the result of distorted or negative thinking. If you want to change how you feel, you have to change how you think.

The best research indicates that depression does affect the way the brain works. New technologies have shown that the brains of people who are depressed look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior appear to function abnormally. We also know that people who are depressed view the world in globally negative terms.

So which came first?  Did brain chemistry create negative thinking?  Or, did negative cognitions change the chemical make-up of the brain?  How we think – what we say to ourselves – can lead to a chemical imbalance. Likewise, not enough neurotransmitters in the brain can cause us to see the world as completely negative.

The best thing one can do for mild or moderate depression is to work on changing perceptions and self-talk. For severe depression, a combination of anti-depressant medication and counseling may be in order.  If I had to choose one or the other, I would pick counseling… medication may help me function more effectively, but – in the end – it won’t change what I say to myself.

G. Bowden McElroy, M.Ed.

(for additional articles on depression: click here)

8 Things To Do to Help Beat Depression

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

beat-depressionImprove the quality of your life by taking control of depression before it takes control of you.
Depression can sometimes be managed with a few techniques. A few suggestions to try when you
begin to feel down include:

1.  Pay Attention to Your Self-Talk. Stop reminding yourself of all the things presently going wrong. Instead, conjure up memories from happier times. Remember that thought content = Mood.

2. Stop the negative thinking. Thought stopping is a simple technique
to learn and is very effective in redirecting negative thoughts. A counselor can help you learn this helpful tool.

3. Avoid social isolation. Spend time with people you enjoy, those who care about you. Many people also enjoy interacting with a pet to help lift their low mood.

4. Focus on one day at a time. Remind yourself that this is a temporary emotional state that will pass.

5. Write a Gratitude Journal. At the end of each day, list five things you are grateful for. Read through your journal throughout the day if necessary.

6. Get Active. Exercise is beneficial in reducing body tension, improving sleep, increasing energy and decreasing stress. Being outdoors often helps elevate your mood; so take a walk, ride
a bike, or simply sit on the porch and enjoy God’s creation.

7. Eat healthy! Sugar effects depression and irritability. Eating right will help you feel better, give you more energy, and help you look better too (which will likely raise self-esteem).

8. Enlist the help of a trusted person to help you monitor the depression and give you feedback on what they observe. If you can’t shake free of the depression, seek assistance from a professional counselor.

-Lois Trost

Lois Trost headshot