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Depression Therapy in NYC

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding depression, depression symptoms, and depression therapy. That’s understandable—depression is a complex condition. Depression symptoms can look different from person to person. Science hasn’t entirely figured out depression! But we know a lot about it and are making new discoveries every day. In this article, we will describe common uncertainties and myths on depression and explain what our current science knows about depression.

If you're wondering whether or not you have depression, take our short quiz here!

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition where you lose some, or all of your love and passion for life.  

Here are some examples of how people experience depressive symptoms: 

  1. Getting out of bed in the morning can be harder than it once was.
  2. Formerly fun activities, such as sex, reading, TV shows or social relationships just aren’t interesting to you.
  3. Your thinking feels slower and your memory isn't as strong.
  4. Food doesn’t taste as good. You might have no appetite or eat excessively without ever feeling satisfied.

In more extreme cases:

  1. You see your life and world in a negative life, and it is hard to see a positive future for yourself.
  2. You might see yourself as a negative force that hurts others.
  3. You could even have thoughts that you’d be better off not being around.

Who gets depression and why?

Anyone can get depression—though some of us are more predisposed than others. Factors such as challenging childhood experiences, disruptive life events including romantic break ups, problems at school or employment, and major life transitions can set off depression.

Unfortunately, depression isn’t a choice. Whether it is due to a death of a loved one, postpartum, or for no obvious reason at all, the causes for depression can be highly unique to each person. Further, “snapping out of it” can only get you so far. 

How is depression different from simply “feeling sad, or down”?

“Do I just need to “think positively”, or do I actually have depression?”

Clinical depression is not the same as “feeling sad”, or being in an emotional slump.  Though, depression often begins as feelings of sadness that linger into a syndrome of being stuck in a negative place, unable to move forward with your life. 

You may experience a number of depressive symptoms including fatigue, a sense of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration, and changes in sleep. Other common symptoms include apathy, social withdrawal, changes in appetite, and at its more severe, thoughts of death or of ending one’s life. 

The difference between clinical depression and temporary sadness, then, is the range of your symptoms, and how often and how long you’ve been experiencing them. Someone with temporary sadness may meet some clinical criteria, for a short period of time. On the other hand, someone with clinical depression will meet many of these common symptoms, for at least two weeks.

Is depression caused by my biology, my psychology, my upbringing or my everyday life and society?

Depression is a multifaceted condition. It is caused by pre-dispositions in your biology, such as genetic factors. For example, a family history of depression is a high predictor for developing depression, and people who are depressed show differences in brain scans. This is one of the reasons medications can help.

A PET scan compares brain activity. On the left (depression), there is a decrease of white and yellow, indicating decreased brain activity due to depression.

Your psychology and upbringing also plays a role in depression. Having skills to address life’s many stressors can protect you from depression. Your positive and negative experiences as a child can turn on and off genes that protect you from depression.   

Your everyday life also drives you if you develop depression. For example, not living alone, being part of a supportive community, having a pet or regularly engaging in exercise, all protect you from depression. Finally, the changes in western society from the third industrial revolution puts increasing demands and stressors on our lives.

Common depression feelings

“It’s like I’m watching life on TV instead of living in it, and all I want to do is change the channel.”
“Like exhaustion, wanting to go home and be done for the day...even when I'm already there.”
“Physically, it feels like I have the flu. Body aches, chest pain, upset stomach. Mentally, I feel like I deserve the flu.”

However, with proper treatment and support, one can become revitalized and have a restored sense of purpose in life.

How should depression be treated?

As a general guideline, mental health conditions should be treated in a holistic manner. It is important for your psychiatrist or depression therapist to first ask and understand all potentially relevant factors for depression. These include: family history of mental illness, past history of mental illness, current daily life, social support systems, to name a few.

Comprehensive treatment is ideal, and can involve a combination of medications, psychotherapy, phototherapy and lifestyle changes (such as exercise, or meditation). Combination treatment has been shown time and time again to be more effective than single type treatment.

Why is it important to treat depression?

Decades of neuroscience research demonstrate that depression is a neurotoxic condition to your brain. Periods of depression cause the connections between parts of your brain to break down. Further, whole areas of your brain related to memory and concentration will shrink. 

Treating depression reverses damage to your brain. The earlier you begin treatment the more it can be reversed. Traditional antidepressants, ketamine, and some psychotherapies will reverse damage to your brain and regrow your neurons.

What is the role of medication in treating depression? 

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and other antidepressants have been used successfully by millions and remain a mainstay of depression treatment.

Medication can alleviate many of the symptoms associated with depression and make the patient better able to respond to psychotherapy.

However, their effects are limited for some people. Only ⅓ of patients experience a full response to these medications, they frequently have unwanted side effects, and may take weeks or months to have full effect.

What is the role of psychotherapy in depression therapy? 

Psychotherapy, otherwise known as “talk therapy”, is usually recommended to be done in conjunction with medication. Some patients prefer to start with or use psychotherapy alone to treat their depression. 

We tend to underestimate the time it takes for psychotherapy to be effective. One research study showed that it takes on average 21 sessions (6 months of weekly depression therapy) to see measurable improvements for half of all patients. Only after 40 sessions (1 year) did these improvements extend to 3/4 of all patients. While psychotherapy takes longer than medications to see improvements, psychotherapy produces longer-lasting changes.

Importantly, psychotherapy is not the same as “cheering you up”. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, assists patients with depression by identifying harmful, self-defeating thoughts, and restructuring them. Someone with a constant loop of negative thoughts will be stressed, which leads to and reinforces depression. 

In essence, psychotherapy helps us build skills to cope with negative emotions and stressful events or periods. Improvements in brain structure and connectivity accomplished through psychotherapy are similar to those achieved through medication.

How do lifestyle choices such as exercise and being out in nature improve depression?

Living in a large urban city, such as New York City, is a well-known risk factor for developing depression. In contrast, there has been numerous evidence that living close to nature has significant benefits for your mental health. Recently, researchers have provided causal evidence that exposure to nature, such as a walk in a forest trail, decreases stress in the brain. 

Developing healthy lifestyle choices can be an important aspect of treating depression. Being outside also provides benefits in the form of sunlight, which the lack of can lead to depression. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the consequence of a severe lack of sunlight typically during winter months. Light therapy is a popular treatment for SAD, particularly when natural sunlight is not available during certain times of the year.

Finally, exercise can improve depression for several reasons. First, it can benefit the brain by reducing inflammation and promoting neural growth. Second, exercise promotes your brain to release endorphins, which is a feel-good chemical. Finally, exercise may allow you to get your mind off of negative emotions and thoughts that feed into your depression.

Work with a NYC Depression Therapist at Integrative Psych

Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice specializing in the treatment of depression and related conditions. Many of our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Connecticut, Westchester but our depression therapists are licensed to treat anyone in the state of New York. 

Integrative Psych takes a compassionate, comprehensive and holistic approach to depression diagnosis and treatment. We will carefully explore your present life and early life, evaluating all factors that could be contributing to your depression. 

When making recommendations, treatment may involve tailored medication and likely include a blend of therapy including cognitive-behavioral therapy, depending on what works best for you. Ketamine therapy is another option offered by our depression therapists for those who have treatment-resistant depression and are finding little success from other standard depression treatments. 

Decisions about what treatment or treatments to pursue are made as a team, between you and your depression therapist. Once you have begun care with us, we will see you regularly to monitor your progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you benefit fully from your treatment at Integrative Psych. 

Obtain depression therapy in NYC today. If you’re seeking treatment and interested in working with one of our depression therapists, book an appointment here.

Patient Testimonials

“When I had my second child, I felt like my life became unmanageable. My first born started acting out and I was struggling with postpartum depression. I started seeing Heather out of desperation, and it was the best thing I could have done. She has provided me with skills to help me manage my child's behavior in a more productive way. I've learnt how to use positive reinforcement, and my relationship with my child (and husband) has flourished!”
“Jen Ray has been a blessing to me and my family. When I first started seeing her I was struggling to sleep and suffered from bouts of depression, I also realized I was using recreational drugs in a problematic way. I thought I would never get through this, but now I'm undergoing an effective treatment plan and am able to look after myself and my family. I couldn't have done this alone. I highly recommend Jennifer Ray!”
“I suffer from insomnia and decided to contact Integrative Psych after seeing a post about their combinative treatment options. After my initial evaluation, I was diagnosed with depression. By treating my depression, my other symptoms have gotten so much better. I have more energy and feel like I can finally think straight. Thank you for doing such a thorough assessment, it has changed my life.”

Imagine this: 

  • Understanding the source of your negative thought patterns and re-framing them before they become destructive
  • Waking up in the morning and feeling excited for the day ahead of you
  • Having the support of a non-judgmental, highly experienced mental health professional as you embark on a customized treatment plan

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