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Sad or depressed?

A person watches the sunset above a sea of fog on the summit of Chaux Ronde in Gryon, Switzerland. (CNS photo/Anthony Anex, EPA) A person watches the sunset above a sea of fog on the summit of Chaux Ronde in Gryon, Switzerland.
Are you feeling sad most of the day -- nearly every day -- or having depressed moods? Do you feel irritable or hopeless or have problems with sleep and changes in appetite?
These could be signs of clinical depression.
In severe cases, there might be thoughts of hurting oneself or of suicide.
“Signs of depression should always be taken seriously as a medical problem that can be treated,” said Thomas Mott, director of counseling services for Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
Normally, sadness comes and goes, depending on the circumstances and the person’s level of resilience to occasional disappointment or setbacks. Sadness often is centered on the loss of someone or something important such as the death of a loved one, a family pet, a divorce or a friend moving to another state.
“We expect sadness to lift after a period of healing, reflection and using resources such as the comforting words from someone we care about or talking to a mental health counselor,” Mott said. “When the sadness doesn’t lift, it’s a sign that professional help may be needed to regain a sense of hope and confidence in the future.”
He recommends that if people are depressed, they should talk to a trusted friend or relative and let them know what they are thinking and feeling. If this doesn’t provide relief, he suggests calling Vermont Catholic Charities Counseling Services to speak with a clinician for next-step advice.
“Besides those suffering from some adjustment issues in their lives the majority of patients I have treated present, in therapy, with sadness and/or depression because of an ongoing unresolved adjustment in their life,” said Sheila A. Conroy, a clinical therapist at Catholic Charities in Middlebury. “Usually depression is chronic, lasting two weeks and usually longer and typically lacks an identifying cause. Sadness typically has a specific cause” or causes.
If someone is feeling suicidal, he or she should call the local mental health agency crisis hotline or 911 or go immediately to the emergency department of the local hospital. “The key point is to tell someone and seek help right away,” Mott said.
Medication is not always necessary to treat depression. All Vermont Catholic Charities clinicians have years of experience treating depression. If medication may be helpful, the clinician can consult with the client’s primary care physician or prescribing physician to discuss a collaborative effort to treat depression.
“To maximize the treatment of depression, clients should make sure they exercise, eat a balanced diet and maintain good sleep hygiene practices,” Mott advises. Clients who drink alcohol or take prescribed medication should always consult with their physician about their depression.
“Depression and anxiety are the most common reasons why people come to Vermont Catholic Charities for counseling,” he said. “We have very effective strategies and tips that can be very helpful. We want people to know depression is a medical condition that can be treated successfully. There is no reason to feel ashamed or to admit one could use a little help.”
It is normal to feel sad from time to time. “But, when it lingers on with no end in sight, it is time to speak with a clinician at Catholic Charities. We care and we want to help you,” Mott said.
Faith, he noted, can be helpful in coping with depression, reducing it and guarding against it returning. “Trusting in God’s love and care for His children has been a timeless source of comfort and hope for one’s future,” he said.
Many patients have described depression as a kind of intense grief. It is a deep sadness, like heartbreak, agony and despair all at once. Some claim depression is worse than grief because grief has an identifiable cause.
“My experience with patients with and without faith is that with faith there is a sense of hope and hope can be a motivating factor to seek help and to know that things can get better,” Conroy said.
Faith and spiritually can also bring one to prayer gatherings and services which can cut through some the isolation that patients with depression often describe.
“For myself, without the knowledge of that there is a God who will care for us, no matter what the severity of the depression/grief there is an anchor and life beyond our pain,” she said.
For more information, call Vermont Catholic Charities at 802-658-6111, ext. 1318, or toll free 1-877-250-4099.

Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
Last modified onMonday, 27 March 2017 13:57
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