While only a qualified mental health professional can actually diagnose a mental health problem, the following information can be used to help assess what general area you might be having difficulty with (please note that this is not a comprehensive listing of all depressive or psychiatric disorders and does not substitute for an evaluation by a mental health professional).
Major Depressive Disorder/Episode: period of two weeks or more in which you feel persistently sad most of the time and may experience boughts of crying, thoughts of death, impulses to harm oneself, feelings of excessive guilt or shame, changes in appetite or sleep, difficulty thinking clearly and/or making decisions, changes in energy level, loss of interest in sex. In children, men and the elderly the dominant mood may be irritability or anger as opposed to sadness.
Dysthymia: period of two years or more in which for most of the time there is a persistent sad mood. May or may not also include Major Depressive Episodes(see above).
Complicated Bereavement: loss of a loved one which leads to grieving and bereavement that does not resolve in the typical fashion (does not get easier over time and/or has a severe impact on ones’ ability to function).
Impact Of Depression:
Major Depressive Disorders have an 80% recovery rate within 2 years
The risk of recurrence with a Major Depressive Episode is 50% after the first episode, 70% after the second episode and 90% after the third episode.
If a Major Depressive Disorder is only partially treated then the likelihood of future episodes increases.
The earlier a Major Depressive Disorder is treated, the more likely that the treatment will be effective.
Benefits Of Therapy:
Psychotherapy has been shown to change levels of serotonin, the brain chemical involved in depression. This is the same mechanism that drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor and other SSRI’s work by.
Studies show that antidepressant medications and psychotherapy both work equally well for psychological problems(this may not apply to some diagnoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder which have a stronger genetic component).
Brain scans have shown that psychotherapy increases the thickness of fibers that connect the frontal lobe to the limbic system. This allows us to better control our emotions and remain calm and not react even when we feel provoked.