Kathi Whitten, LCSW - Individual, Couple & Family Psychotherapy
--Persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety
--Unusual increase or decrease in sleep or appetite
--Loss of interest in, or withdrawal from, normal activities or relationships --Feeling hopeless, empty, irritable or pessimistic
--Feeling guilty, shameful or worthless
--Difficulty concentrating
--Thoughts of harming yourself or someone else/actual plan or attempt at   suicide (NOTE: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts seek help     immediately!  Either call 911 or go to your local emergency room.)

Depressions are not all alike. Everyone has times of some depression, usually related to particular events. However, there are some forms of depression that do need treatment. Some are present rather constantly over time, but a person has adjusted to living with a less-than-optimal quality of life, often without realizing they are depressed. It is important to seek treatment for this form of depression, however many do not realize that it is depression since they have lived with it for so long.

Other people experience very deep, or “major” depression, that has come on more recently, and severely compromises a person’s ability to go about normal daily activities. Often it includes suicidal thinking or other thoughts of harming oneself or someone else. This is a form of depression that needs to be treated as an emergency.

There is a form of depression that is part of a bipolar condition—where a person has swings of mood between depressed and manic episodes (which can be times of high energy levels, insomnia, and sometimes activities that are very uncharacteristic of the person exhibiting them). The depression can be very severe, and this is also a condition that needs immediate treatment.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is also known as “winter blues.”  It appears to occur more often in winter, and people find themselves feeling depressed, often sleeping more, eating more, feeling fatigue and lethargy.  This form of depression can be helped by lifestyle changes, medication or especially, finding a light source which helps when the days are short.  There is an opposite form of this known as “reverse seasonal affective disorder” which can include anxiety as a symptom.Women can have post-partum depression. This comes at a time soon after childbirth, and leaves her feeling low energy, depressed and often guilty because she is unable to be as responsive to her infant as she wants to be. This is a serious condition and treatment should be sought quickly. Many women do not understand that this debilitating condition is not their fault, nor is it a judgment about their mothering abilities.

There can be a depression that arises around loss and grief. While this sort of depression can be normal and expected after the loss of a loved-one, or of something important in one’s life, if it becomes prolonged and the person is unable to get back into previous activities in a reasonable time, it may have become a clinical depression, that needs treatment.