It’s hard to deny that 2020 has been messy. It’s been difficult to find stability in the near constant wave of chaos, ever-changing information, and confusing regulations. In one way or another, all of us have seen changes in our lives over which we have very little control. While some have become accustomed to this new normalcy, many still struggle with feelings of helplessness, isolation and depression. This mixed with the fact that winter is rapidly approaching and restrictions seem to be coming down again, leaves many Ontarians even more vulnerable.
Mental health workers have worried about the rising symptoms of depression amongst people in Ontario during the pandemic. A study done earlier this year showed that 24% of Canadian participants reported fair to low mental health, a 200% increase from the 8% that reported it two years ago. Officials of the Canadian Mental Health Association said mental health should be a priority concern. They instruct Canadians to act promptly to prepare for this phenomenon, especially as we begin experiencing colder weather and shorter days. What are signs you might need support, and how do you go about finding it?
Recognizing symptoms of depression is the first, and one of the most important steps in getting better. Unlike “feeling down” or “having an off-day”, depression is characterized by ongoing negative feelings that get in the way of your day-to-day life. It can impact your self-image, your relationships, and your productivity both at home and at work.
People suffering from depression feel sad even in situations that would normally make them happy. They often experience a lack of motivation and persistent fatigue, regardless of their amount of sleep. Many feel elongated periods of irritation or frustration, and may find themselves blowing up at those around them, seemingly without reason. A lack of focus is common amongst those with depression, as are elevated levels of stress, guilt and self-hatred. Those with depression may go through extreme weight changes; some may find comfort in food, while others lose their appetite altogether. One of the most common symptoms of depression is a “numb” feeling; an inability to find pleasure or happiness in anything, that leads those affected to isolate and withdraw.
Recognize depression symptoms in yourself or someone else? Overcoming depression is not an easy or straightforward journey, but with help and knowledgeable support it is possible.
One of the most well researched therapies used to treat depression is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. CBT functions under the premise that thoughts precede moods. By changing unhealthy thought patterns and fixations, you can regulate and improve an individual’s mood, and their subsequent reactions and behaviours. A patient being administered CBT will first come to accept that some of their perceptions of reality are exaggerated, misguided or false. From there, they learn to recognize negative thoughts, and begin reframing and replacing them with ones that align more closely to reality. Later, they begin reflecting on their very core beliefs about themselves and others, and discover new and healthier ways to see the world. For many patients, CBT works as well as medication to treat depression.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is highly effective. A vast number of studies have reported amazing results for improving and even resolving symptoms of depression. One study showed that 50-70% of participants experiencing depression responded to CBT; their symptoms bettered, and in some cases, they were completely overcome. It also keeps patients from falling back into depression; several studies have shown reduced rates of relapse after attending CBT sessions.
Of course, with the tumultuous state we’re in, many are hesitant to begin or continue in-office therapy sessions. Thankfully, online psychotherapy is available, and extremely effective in treating patients. Studies showed that online administered cognitive behavioural therapy proves as effective as face-to-face sessions in improving symptoms of depression. Another study reported a whopping 82% of clients continued the cognitive behavioural techniques learned after their online sessions.
For many individuals suffering from depression, online therapy provides comforts that in-person sessions do not. If someone is having a depressive episode and finds it difficult to get out of bed, chances are they aren’t going to be able to get dressed and drive down to their therapy office. An online session offers a much more accessible model where clients can get help from their psychotherapists from their own home, even their own bed.
At Mind + Zest, we have a wide range of Ontario board approved psychotherapists ready to help. We have a deep understanding of what mental illness looks like, and how to treat it. Go to https://www.mindandzest.com/ and in just a few clicks, you can get connected to our intake specialist, free of charge. After assessing your needs and goals for therapy, they can connect you to your own personal therapist as quickly as today. You don’t have to suffer alone. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or threatening to harm themselves or others, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.