Sadness and grief are normal emotions. They usually go away after a few days, and when they do we feel “back to normal”. Depression is a chronic state of one or more of these (persistent for at least 2 weeks):
- feeling sad or empty
- severely low motivation
- irritability and anger
- fixation on the past or things that have gone wrong
- anxiety and restlessness
- loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- suicidal thoughts
If you have been experiencing these symptoms for 2 weeks or more, Psychotherapy (over time) could help you feel better. Depression affects our mood, but it is ultimately a “thought disorder”, because it is our negative, “awfulizing” thoughts that fuel our low mood. Psychotherapy helps you examine your negative thought patterns, challenge them, then create alternative–more positive–ways of relating to yourself and others. This paradigm-shift helps you feel better.
Anxiety typically goes hand-in-hand with depression; there may be stronger depression, or stronger anxiety, but usually they tag along together. Anxiety is persistent worry, usually about things that are irrational or not likely to occur.
Similar to depression, anxiety is classified as a “mood disorder”, but fueling the mood are biological, psychological, and social factors. Psychotherapy addresses the psychological and social factors that are fueling your worry, improving them to reduce worry and stress.
One powerful treatment intervention I use for people suffering from anxiety is Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness helps people get out of the “worry-about-the future” or “regret-over-the-past” by helping them focus on the present moment. Mindfulness is backed by countless studies as a method of reducing stress and anxiety, improving well-being, and strengthening memory and cognitive functioning.
Sometimes we just feel “stuck” in life. We don’t quite meet the qualifications for a psychological diagnosis like depression or anxiety, but somehow we still feel “off”.
Maybe we’ve had a major move, family reorganization, religious shift, or job change. Life transitions can be exciting but can also produce a lot of stress and strain on relationships. When our stress from a life transition turns into excessive worry, lack of sleep, changes in appetite, stress and irritability, or makes us feel like we’re not quite ourselves, therapy can be helpful for navigating through in ways that are help us re-connect with our values.
We are stronger than we think. Negative self-image, low self-esteem, and high self-doubt can be transformed into empowerment and living the lives we’ve always wanted. I work with clients to become empowered, by first connecting with themselves, validating their wants and needs, and helping them learn how to be strong advocates for their dreams.
Many people want to improve their significant relationships, but the other partner is not open to coming to therapy. That is okay–I meet my clients where they are–and significant progress can come from one member of a partnership making positive changes.
“It takes two to tango”, but it only takes ONE to make a shift in a negative “dance” pattern that a couple has gotten stuck in. When I work with one partner of a relationship, we can do a significant amount of work with themselves, and by so doing, positively change their significant relationship.