Depression can be a confusing condition. Not everyone who is depressed is clinically depressed. It is important to distinguish between Clinical Depression and Reactive Depression. It is important that you do not self-diagnose your mood. A psychologist can assess your mood and provide you with treatment options. The experienced psychologists at Roth Associates in Psychology and Counselling in Halifax can help.

Reactive Depression

Reactive Depression occurs following a significant negative event.  The symptoms are a reaction to what you experienced.  It is normal and in fact healthy to react emotionally to stressful, sad or negative events.  However, if your reactions are prolonged, distorted or intensifying, it may be time to seek support.  People often hide normal emotional reactions because they do not understand them or because other people are not supportive. For instance suppressing normal, healthy grief reactions can result in making them worse.

  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Frequent crying
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Headaches or stomachaches
  • Palpitations
  • Withdrawal or isolation from people and social activities
  • Absence from work or school
  • Dangerous or destructive behavior
  • Changes in appetite, either loss of appetite or overeating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feeling tired or without energy
  • Increase in the use of alcohol or other drugs

A psychologist can assess your mood and clarify your symptoms.  Usually reactive depression does not require medication or heavy-duty psychotherapy.  It requires understanding, dialogue and support.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression from the
Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV-TR

The most common diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder.  Do not be afraid of the name.  It is only one of the labels we use to distinguish mood states.

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). NOTE: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.  NOTE: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

Treatment Options

Clinical Depression

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: changing how we think about our experience will change how we feel. Self-monitoring workbooks.
  2. Relaxation & Stress Management: relaxation exercises and coping strategies and learning to breath effectively
  3. Anti-depressant medication will be recommended only when your symptoms are severe and your quality of life is threatened.  Medication can help take the edge off the symptoms and give you some emotional relief and allow you to focus on therapy.

Reactive Depression

  1. Dialogue that will enable you to process the emotion in a healthy manner and move forward
  2. Relaxation and Stress Management
  3. Medication will not be recommended unless you have a history of depression or you are totally overwhelmed emotionally.

The first step is an assessment by a psychologist to correctly diagnose your symptoms and identify your needs.

Please take a moment to call us. We would be happy to speak with you in confidence, answer any questions and match you with a therapist.