Category: Individual Therapy

How to Recognize Signs of Depression

If you have ever felt like you truly understand Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, or have been told to stop being a “downer”, then you may be familiar with seeing life through a perspective of sadness.

It is a perspective that others will turn a blind eye to, but which we can’t help but see.

A perspective that makes us feel like our arms and legs are made of lead, making it feel impossible to function, even when we want to.

A perspective of ourselves that makes us feel unworthy, helpless, and hopeless.


This is likely not just “being down” or experiencing sadness. This is depression.


It might be hard to understand the difference between feeling sad a lot and experiencing depression.


There are a lot of tough things in life that can bring us down. Some of us might not recognize having depression because we don’t want to, because, well… it’s depressing. Some of us might not recognize having depression because when we’ve actually opened up about how we’ve been feeling, we’re told to “get over it” or “it’s all in your head” by our friends or family members. For those of you out there who need to hear it, it is not all in your head and there’s simply no “getting over” anything that feels as all-encompassing as depression.


Depression is a clinical mental health diagnosis (officially it is called Major Depressive Disorder), meaning it needs to be diagnosed by medical or mental health professionals.

Folks all across the world (in the hundreds of millions) experience depression in their lifetimes. Women tend to experience it more than men (6% and 4%, respectively), but it also becomes more common the older we get (about 5.7% of older adults, compared to 4.4% of children experience depression).

Depression may occur as a result of multiple, stressful (or outright painful) life events, but it can also occur simply because our DNA says so. (Insert Eeyore sigh here). Other indicators that can make us vulnerable to depression: medical conditions, other mental health conditions, military service, and/or having survived domestic violence.


That said, depression is NOT: grief, disappointment, nor feeling “bummed” or “down”.

Here’s why: symptoms include more than just feeling sad and are time sensitive. Below are indicators of Major Depressive Disorder:

  • Feeling sad or having depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite (such as, weight loss or gain unrelated to deliberate diet changes)
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (as in, inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech; these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning


Diagnoses can get really specific, so tracking how long symptoms have lasted, whether they come and go, how severe symptoms have been, as well as how symptoms have interfered with day to day life, can be essential in getting a correct diagnosis.

In case it’s not complicated enough, please keep in mind, there are different types of depression:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – the one where it seems like the depression never goes away
  • Depressive Psychosis – the one where a person can be out of touch with reality (aka, experiencing delusions and/or hallucinations)
  • Perinatal Depression – the one where depression occurs either during or after pregnancy (prenatal depression and postpartum depression, respectively)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder– the one that is based on a person’s menstruation cycle.

Please note: this list does not include ALL the different kinds of depression, but does represent some of the most common forms.


If you are recognizing these symptoms in your personal experience, we encourage you to see a medical doctor first, just in case there might be something medical happening that can explain the symptoms.


If a medical doctor lets you know there’s nothing to physically indicate a reason for experiencing depressive symptoms, we encourage you to seek out mental health professionals who can help. Either mental health counseling or psychotropic medication, or a combination of both, is usually recommended as treatment for depression. (If this gets your attention, you might want to check out the Heart to Heart video our CEP team made for Mental Health Awareness month, where we talk about different types of mental health treatment). 


At CEP, we are dedicated to being a support to people wanting to learn if they are experiencing depression as well as what to do about their symptoms. Our team recognizes that people are more dynamic than characters in a franchise, like Eeyore, and we are here to help with any signs or symptoms of depression. If you’d like more information about how we can help, please contact (915) 209-1234 for more information.




American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Stages of Change in Therapy – how understanding of ourselves helps us progress

When clients first come to therapy, they often wonder: “What do I want to gain from this? How can I get help if I don’t even understand what’s bothering me?”.

Maybe they tried therapy before and it “didn’t click” or they lost motivation, or simply couldn’t find time to commit to weekly sessions. What they DO know is they need help, they just need to find out what to do.

These feelings are very common when facing a big step such as going to therapy. The understanding of our motivation is one of the essential parts of getting better – not only knowing what the issue is – also the knowing why I want to change.

What to expect from the process of change?

How fast can I move forward?

What if I fail?

Being prepared will make us more confident and less anxious about the changes and will let us navigate the process in a more mindful way.

The Stages of Change or The Transtheoretical Model of Change is a clinical theory developed in the 1970’s by James Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island and Carlo Di Clemente.

The stages can be best explained as interrelated steps we go through with our thoughts and emotions when we are confronted with a difficult situation that needs changing.

The concept can be applied to anything from quitting drinking to breaking up an unhealthy relationship to healing from grief after losing a loved one. The stages follow an order and each of them has a purpose in creating change. They also occur gradually – from initial resistance and denial, a commitment and progression is created, and relapse is an expected part of the process.

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Five Signs That Tell You It’s Time to See a Therapist

As a mental health professional who has been in the field for a while, it’s been interesting to observe why and how people end up in my office seeking guidance. The following is a list of indicators that may be signaling to you it could be time for you to seek support from a mental health professional.

  1. Your loved ones are noticing that you are different. Sometimes, we are not able to look at ourselves objectively…that is we can’t clearly see how we behave sometimes. It is like when you look into a mirror and only see certain flaws or spots in your face or body but can’t quite see the whole picture.  Those around us, specifically our loved ones, hold a special perspective of ourselves and can see different aspects of ourselves that we are not able to.  If loved ones, people who see us every day, or people who interact with us often notice unusual or “not typical” behaviors and point it out, they might be signals that mean we need some extra help from a therapist. They may tell you that they are concerned about things like substance abuse, irritability, mood changes, isolation, or your daily routines.
  2. You feel a sense of emotional discomfort that has lasted longer than 2 weeks. You’ve made it this far into life with all you’ve got, but sometimes, life can become daunting or unmanageable.  If you feel any sense of apathy, sadness, nervousness, worry, or uncertainty that has been unmanageable or if you’re noticing behavior changes like not wanting to engage in relationships, snapping back at others, feeling like you don’t want to do anything, not finding pleasure in old hobbies, or changes in your appetite, it might be time to take a closer look at yourself.  When these “signals” come up for longer than two weeks it might be time to get Read more

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