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Depression

Basic Information

Clinical depression is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.  “Depressed” mood can involve having low motivation, energy, appetite, and highly dis-regulated sleep patterns.  It could also feature mood that is considered “blue” more often than not, though in some cases, the experience can be more of anger/irritability, than in feeling sad.  There may not be an identifiable stressor and the person can become depressed for no reason, or for irrational reasons that do not fit the reality of the situation.  If there is a situation that affects the person’s mood in a negative way, a depressive episode can heighten the intensity and length of that experience.

Sadness is a feeling experienced when a person perceives that they have experienced some form of loss that is upsetting to them.  For example, sadness would be expected to manifest if someone missed living at home, experienced a romantic relationship break-up, or received a less-than-expected grade on a test.  It can lead to cognitive (thinking), behavioral and/or physiological (physical) disruptions.  Typically, a person can identify a stressor (a situational/environmental condition) that created the feeling of sadness.

A person is diagnosed with a mood disorder, such as Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Mood, Persistent Depressive Disorder, if the symptom experience is intense and pervasive enough to significantly interfere with a person’s daily functioning.  The mood concern must affect a person’s functioning in multiple areas, including academics, social life, work, and being able to effective care for one’s self.  About 12-15% of people who believe they have a mood disorder actually end up being diagnosed with one.  It is important to note that not all mood disorders feature depressed mood.  For example, manic mood states involve an inflation, rather than deflation, of mood in which the person experiences high, rather than low, levels of energy.  Like depressed mood states, manic mood states can significantly interfere with a person’s daily functioning.  Bipolar mood involves the chronic shifting of “high” and “low” mood states.

If someone believes they have experienced a significant disruption to their daily functioning due to depression or a mood disorder, then it is best to pursue mental health counseling for the concern.  In this case, a trained professional can meet with the person to determine what clinical remediation options would best fit for the person.  These options could be ongoing talk therapy, medication, coping skills training, group counseling, and referrals to other professionals to determine the scope and depth of the problem.

Online Resources

Moodpath tracks your mood, thoughts, and behavioral patterns for 14 days and makes recommendations for mood improvement.

  • Happify is an application that utilizes games and activities modeled on CBT interventions and positive psychology. Also has an associated blog.
  • SuperBetter is like Happify, an activities and games based app that is modeled on CBT interventions. It has a variety of specified games and activities for each “problem area” (e.g., depression, anxiety). For instance, for depression SuperBetter has 4 distinct “powerpacks” or gameplay options – Absurdly Grateful, Being Awesome, Make it Epic, and Mental Resilience in 5 minutes a day.
  • MY3 is a safety planning app that helps someone create and maintain a safety plan with crisis contacts and recommendations.

Videos

Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon, a bestselling memoir on depression, has an often-watched TEDtalk on the role of shared connection in overcoming depression.

An inspirational video on “the black dog of depression” from the World Health Organization focuses on de-stigmatizing depression and offers some self-help intervention.

Maggie Robbins, therapist and poet, on the process of working through severe depression. The title is intense and perhaps off-putting, but she gives a moving personal account of her challenges with bipolar depression.

On-Campus Resources

Auburn University Student Counseling & Psychological Services (SCPS) provides brief, time-limited, and goal-oriented counseling and psychiatric services to the Auburn University student community. Services may include brief individual therapy (i.e., 1-10 biweekly sessions), group therapy (no session limits), workshops, drop-in groups, and psychiatric services. SCPS is also able to provide Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as part of sessions or outreach opportunities. Sessions are free and confidential.

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Last modified: 10/15/2019