Do you suffer from Depression?
- Do you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning?
- Are you overeating or undereating?
- Do you feel like nothing brings you pleasure anymore?
- Does taking care of yourself seem like a tremendous burden?
- Do your thoughts become your enemies?
Depression and the other mood disorders such as dysthymia and bipolar disorder, inordinately impact the LBGTQQ community. It makes sense. Even though we live in the “gay-friendly” confines of the Bay Area, most of us arrive here from somewhere else, and the somewhere else was often much less hospitable to who we are. The stresses of homophobia, coming out, risks of rejection, confusion and uncertainty that many of us go through as we come to terms with and ultimately celebrate ourselves, can take a toll on the psyche. Depression, and its feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, and at times suicidal thoughts, is a common response when the body and mind have become overwhelmed. Depression can also “mask itself”, showing up as the overuse of substances such as alcohol and street drugs, and in over or under-eating, gambling, excessive shopping or sexing, in short, any of the ways one might use to distract from emotional pain.
Additionally, many LGBT people find that whatever problems they had in life have not magically gone away as a result of living here. People can struggle with finding and keeping deep, sustaining emotional connection and love, having meaningful work and community support.
These issues are common in both adult and youth populations. A recent study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reports that gay and lesbian teens are 3 times more likely to report a history of suicidality and more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression than their heterosexual counterparts. Even more troubling, the more seriously an LGBT youth is contemplating suicide, the higher the disparity between them and straight identified youth. Given the serious nature of depression and its wide-ranging impact on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of living, it is important to seek out help if one has symptoms of depression that last more than a few days to weeks. As painful as depression can be, it is also quite often successfully treated by a combination of talking therapy, emotional support, and anti- depressant medications. For LGBT people, seeking out and working with an LGBT clinician is often a good place to start.
Symptoms of depression include:
- A persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of pessimism or hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that have been previously enjoyed, including sex
- A decrease in energy, increased fatigue, or feeling slowed down
- Difficulty with memory, concentration, or making decisions
- A change in sleep patterns, either sleeping less or sleeping more
- A change in eating patterns resulting in either weight loss or weight gain
- Irritability or restlessness
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to medical treatment, including headaches, digestive disorders or chronic pain
- Feelings that life no longer matters, thinking excessively about death, wishing for death, making plans for suicide.
These are common signs of depression. Depression immobilizes people, makes their lives miserable and sometimes it seems like their life is not worth living.
Most times people suffer by themselves. Depression cannot be handled alone. It is the time that we need help the most: from our friends, our family and from a professional.
Together you and I can begin to relieve your pain today. Please call or email today for help in the Bay Area.
There is hope and a solution
Your depression can lead to a deep self understanding and the ability to accept and love yourself.
Example of help for depression in my San Francisco mental health practice
A person suffering from severe depression often needs an empathic listener more than anyone else. One of my clients was so debilitated by his depression, he cried and could hardly function for hours on end. Sometimes he just needed to be held. The therapy I used when he felt well enough to participate was expressive arts, movement, role-playing and
dreams. I showed him that depression was trying to teach him things about himself that he had been ignoring. The art and drama helped him see depression from a different view point.
My counseling methods are like looking at a hologram. It does not matter what my client and I talk about, eventually all problems reveal themselves.
Individual therapy for acute and chronic illness in my San Francisco counseling practice
One of my clients was a cancer survivor who suffered severe pain and was not capable of working. I counseled her for several years. As a result of our work together, she is married and finishing her university degree in the healthcare field. My immediate focus with this client was rebuilding her sense of self-worth and overcoming a hopeless attitude. I then taught her skills to handle anxiety. I also encouraged her to communicate with family members and her boyfriend who all wanted to help her recover. I also supported her by phone when she called.