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Depression 101

Question:

I have been really depressed lately. I feel like my life is worthless and no one cares about me. I am seeing a therapist, but I want to stop seeing her. I feel I should since no one cares about me. What should I do? I know my friends are tired of my negative attitude all of the time.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Lesson number one about depression goes something like this: Just because you feel like a worthless failure doesn’t make it true. The way you feel is not a good guide for what you should do when you are depressed. Your feelings are telling you that you should give up. It really seems like nobody cares about you and that you are no good. But this is not correct. You have worth as a person even when you don’t feel it to be true. You are also ill and in need of treatment. Depression is a disease that is unlike most other diseases you are familiar with. It is a stealth disease. Becoming depressed is like having filtered sunglasses welded to your eyes – that let in only the dark and that make even light things seem dreary. Depression puts negative thoughts into your head that wouldn’t be there otherwise and then tells you that these negative thoughts are true. But they aren’t true. Depression warps your mind so that you believe that depression is inevitable and a part of your general moral and spiritual failure. The truth is that depression is not about failure at all – it is really about being ill. Depression is a genuine illness (like the flu or diabetes) that can be helped with medicines and with proper therapy.

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p>If you think you are not benefiting from therapy (and have genuinely tried to work with your therapist for 5-6 weeks or more) then consider getting a new therapist. But don’t even think of getting out of therapy please. Getting out of therapy would be a mistake. There are several excellent therapies for depression including Interpersonal Therapy for Depression and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression. Other forms of therapy can help too – but these two types have been well studied and are known to work well. If you are not on medication, ask your therapist to help you find a psychiatrist, or find a Medical Doctor to evaluate you for antidepressants on your own. There is effective help available for you – but you may have to work a bit to find it.

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p> Best of Luck to you,

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p> Dr. Dombeck

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