What Is Depression?
Depression is a psychological state characterized by a sense of sadness, exhaustion, low energy, and apathy. Everyone experiences depression differently, however, and in some, depression may include feelings of anger, frustration, worry, or nervousness. Depression often occurs alongside other mood symptoms like anxiety and can lead to addiction and risk-taking behaviors.
The term depression carries many different meanings. It can be a normal reaction to major loss and is often a symptom of grieving. Depression can also be a disabling and debilitating condition, and it is one of the most common psychological challenges facing people worldwide.
Although almost all of us will experience depression throughout our lives during challenging or stressful events, depression that persists or manifests itself in highly disruptive ways can require clinical help. For some, a mild depressive reaction to a loss may be an impetus to make changes in one’s life or to seek additional help. For others, depression may manifest as so hopeless and despairing that one may have difficulty getting out of bed or taking care of basic living activities. It may even cause someone to contemplate taking their own life.
PCH is a leading depression treatment center that works with clients suffering from all forms of depression, with a special focus on the treatment of severe depression that significantly affects our clients’ daily lives, careers, and routines. We are also able to help people with severe depression that can be life threatening.
The PCH Approach to Treating Depression
At PCH Treatment Center, our first line of treatment for depression and mood disorders is psychotherapy and aerobic exercise, along with exposure to a wide array of psychotherapeutic and holistic activities. We have extensive experience treating moderate to severe depression which frequently occurs in conjunction with anxiety and other psychological issues.
Traditional treatment of depression often focuses primarily on medical management. Since most medical treatments alone have proven to have limited utility in treating depression, PCH has a unique approach. We work to optimize a person’s sleep habits, nutrition, exercise activities, relationships and work and family environments. We give our clients tools to help them manage their lives more effectively.
Our psychiatrists evaluate each client’s medication regimen and adjust it accordingly, while often first recommending aerobic exercise, which has proven to be very effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Often, when a client is in our treatment milieu, medications can be tapered or eliminated, as determined by our medical staff.
Upon arriving at PCH Treatment Center for depression treatment, each client receives a thorough initial assessment. This assessment explores the client’s specific depression symptoms and the effect these symptoms have had on their day-to-day functioning. Depression adversely affects a person’s ability to work or succeed in school, maintain healthy interpersonal relationships, or have a positive sense of well-being. After admission, each client is evaluated by a psychologist and a psychiatrist from our clinical team to identify these adverse effects.
Clients are assigned to a specific program director who serves as their case manager and an individual therapist; these clinicians have extensive experience treating depression and any co-occurring psychological issues that may exist. For example, most people suffering from depression have experienced a significant loss of some kind. It may be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, or an experience of physical or psychological trauma. Most people with depression also suffer from moderate to severe anxiety. Trauma and personality issues may further contribute to depression.
When depression becomes so severe that a person has thoughts of self-harm or suicidality, PCH Treatment Center is able to help. In our milieu, we can handle clients with thoughts of self-harm who are willing to agree to our programming requirements and work to get better. We have helped many clients with severe depression with or without co-occurring psychological problems, especially trauma, by providing a multi-faceted approach to depression treatment services.
Services Provided at Our Depression Treatment Center
- Comprehensive initial psychological and psychiatric assessments
- Individual psychotherapy
- Individual somatic experiencing/sensorimotor therapy
- Multiple psychotherapeutic groups, emphasizing psycho-education about mood problems
- Provision of tools to cope with depressive and anxiety symptoms
- Individual treatment led by our program directors
- Medication management by our in-house psychiatric team
- Optimization of sleep hygiene, nutrition, and exercise
- Family therapy
- Aerobic exercise and yoga/meditation programs
- Arts program
Treating Different Types of Depression
While many people believe it is a single psychological condition, depression is actually a blanket term used to describe multiple different types of depressive states. You may not be able to diagnose yourself, but trained psychiatric professionals can differentiate between these different states of depression.
Among the most common depressive states are:
Normal Reactive Depression
Normal Reactive Depression is characterized by a response to a distressing life event or situation. For example, the individual may experience a sudden life change such as being terminated from employment, experiencing a relationship breakup, or another disruption to their daily life. Similarly, normal grieving is the depressive reaction to a major loss such as the death of a loved one or the sudden onset of terminal illness. The symptoms often are similar to those of major depression.
Many people experience Normal Reactive Depression at some point in their lives, and they may be able to work through it without requiring formal treatment. While it is normal to feel sadness when someone loses something or someone important to them, prolonged changes in mood and behavior can reduce life satisfaction and quality of life, particularly if they lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicidality. If that happens, the signs and symptoms of Normal Reactive Depression may begin to overlap with those of Major Depressive Disorder.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder is often indicated by severe depressive symptoms that are prolonged and deeply felt, including sleep difficulties (insomnia, hypersomnia, early wakening), apathy, exhaustion, poor self-esteem and difficulty concentrating.
The effects of Major Depressive Disorder interfere with the individual’s ability to live a life of well-being and satisfaction for an extended period that may last months or years. It changes the way a person feels, acts, and interacts with others.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between Normal Reactive Depression and Major Depressive Disorder. If you or someone you care about needs help understanding if lasting sadness from a life event might be more serious, contact PCH today.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by two extreme mood swings called manic states and depressive states. When an individual experiences a manic state, they may seem to be full of life and exhibit none of the symptoms of depression. However, manic states do not last forever, and when they come to an end, the individual experiences depressive states that often manifest with symptoms similar to Major Depressive Disorder.
When the individual is in a depressive state, the need for treatment often becomes apparent. The symptoms are often the same, but treatment should not be. Antidepressants typically used to treat Major Depressive Disorder can trigger manic states in individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. As a result, medication management is even more critical, and mood stabilizers may offer a better option than antidepressants.
The clinicians at PCH are equipped to treat clients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder as well as Bipolar Depression.
Persistent depression is a lesser known form of depression that is less severe than major depression but lasts longer. Individuals struggling with persistent depression commonly write off their struggles as part of their personality or disposition. When that happens, PCH can help.
Read more: What Is Persistent Depression?
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes called SAD) is a depressive state that is recurrent at similar times of the year on an annual basis. For example, the person experiences major depressive symptoms in the fall or spring around the same time every year but the symptoms then go away when the season changes.
Read more: What Is Seasonal Depression?
Regardless of the different types of depression, whether a “normal” or more persistent condition, all respond to the therapeutic approaches that we have mentioned previously. If your depressive symptoms are interfering with the quality of your life, treatment and well-being are possible. Find out if PCH is right for you.
What are the Effects of Depression?
Depression can have a significant impact on your life, from making it difficult to hold down steady employment and enjoy family relationships to making even the simplest of tasks, like getting out of bed, a struggle.
Most often, depression manifests itself as lethargy, exhaustion, sadness, and a persistent sense of foreboding or other negative thoughts. People struggling with depression will sometimes have difficulty finding pleasure in the activities that they once enjoyed, such as spending time with family and friends or engaging in hobbies. They may lose the motivation to show up for work, engage in social activities, or take care of themselves physically or mentally.
Because depression can be temporary, it is sometimes linked to changes in season, weather, or circumstances, including major traumatic events. In other cases, depression can be an ongoing challenge that requires psychological intervention.
Either way, if depression is significantly impacting your life, you should seek help from a depression treatment center to better understand and cope with the symptoms you may be experiencing, particularly if you or someone you care about is having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is often linked to traumatic events and can be a major driver of depressive feelings. Changes in the seasons and other major life events can also cause depression. Persistent depressive symptoms may be linked to brain chemistry and, in some cases, are associated with fluctuating hormone levels in the body.
People who menstruate can also experience depression linked to their menstrual cycle and after giving birth, also known as postpartum depression. All individuals can experience depression related to decreases in hormone levels seen with aging (menopause, andropause).
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, you may not be able to pinpoint an exact cause for the way you are feeling. It is important to seek the help of a trained psychological professional who can help you better understand what you are experiencing and how you can best cope.
How Is Depression Treated?
At PCH, our depression treatment center offers supportive housing and day/outpatient depression treatment programs. While we are located in the Los Angeles area, we help clients from all over the country struggling with depression and mood disorders. Our intensive programs feature four individual psychotherapy sessions per week with a fifth day session of somatic experiencing or sensorimotor therapy. Group depression therapies are complemented by neurofeedback sessions, and holistic modalities including yoga, meditation, an aerobic exercise program, and art therapy and art activities.
We find that most persons suffering from depression feel debilitated and apathetic, which contributes to a lack of structure in their day. Someone who lacks meaning or purpose and feels they have “nowhere to go” will experience feelings of depression. At our depression treatment center, our full daily schedule provides the essential structure needed to help patients suffering from depression recover a sense of meaning and purpose. Our programming provides insight and tools to allow our clients to not only become less depressed, but also to insulate them from future episodes of depression when life’s inevitable conflicts and losses occur.
An integral part of all of our intensive treatment programs is the PCH Family Therapy Program. A three-day family weekend is included in the first month at our depression treatment center. During this time, clients and their families learn from our clinicians how to improve their communication, provide appropriate support, identify early warning signs, and live with their family member’s psychological problems in the most supportive manner possible. Families also interact and learn from other families and clients. Individual family sessions can also be added to allow continued work between the client and family and the family on their own.
We believe our staff of clinicians are among the most well-trained and experienced psychologists and therapists. Our team has been very successful in treating even the most difficult cases of depression (with or without other co-occurring psychological issues). Although based in Los Angeles, PCH receives clients from other depression treatment centers, clinics, facilities, hospitals, and referring clinicians from all over the country and world. We pride ourselves on our ability to treat depression and we offer a unique approach that is predicated on the clinical experience of our psychologists, psychiatrists and staff, our therapeutic milieu, and our unique and highly refined clinical programming.
“I have been depressed for many years and truly thought I would never get better, but coming to PCH saved my life. I learned useful tools and skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and I am so grateful.”
“I feel my time at PCH connected was worthwhile. Although I wish the meetings could have been in person, Zoom proved to not be an obstacle. It gave me concrete tools to curb my anxious moments and a framework of how to process my depression.”
– August 2020
“Overall, I was very impressed by PCH and had a positive experience as a client here. I feel much less depressed than when I arrived. I would recommend the program to others.” – July 2017
“PCH was a game changer for me. I have been a long time alcoholic and only addressing that issue over the decades. The program allowed me to see and address my depression that was getting worse over the years. While I still have work to do, I can say that I am a far different and better person now. Let the journey begin!” – June 2016
“After a few months at PCH, I became completely aware and accepting of my past for the first time in my entire life. I have been in therapy since the age of 7, diagnosed with Major Depression at age 10, and it wasn’t until I came to PCH at age 25 that I discovered the reasons behind my depression. Until PCH, I felt defective. I believed for so long that there was not a single reason why I was depressed. I felt that it was all my fault… I was deeply ashamed of myself… I was not a normal person and I didn’t understand why. PCH opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective. My depression is not my fault! There were many contributing factors in my past that had contributed to my depression. I am not defective… and I am NOT alone! PCH gave me hope that I am not a helpless case. There are a lot of things I can do to help me with my depression. I cannot thank you enough PCH!” – May 2016
“Wow, it’s been a journey. Came here straight out of wilderness. Place seemed luxurious, bourgeois. PCH, for the most part, helped me develop tools to grapple with depression and OCD. I leave cautiously optimistic that despite recurring bouts of depression, I’ll be able to function.” – March 2016
“I will never forget this place. It changed my life. Upon arriving I did not know what to expect. I was depressed, lost, and full of little hope. The staff warmly welcomed me. The therapists are extremely professional and experienced and each have a passion for what they do. It is evident in the compassion they demonstrate on a daily basis. The facility was comfortable and had the feeling of home as much as it can for a treatment facility. I am sad to leave this place but not for the same reasons I came here. I have learned how to be authentic to my feelings and who I am. I have learned that depression does not have to be a way of life, and I learned that there are people who can truly help and can make a difference in my life. I will carry PCH in my heart always.” – February 2015
“I’ll never forget the day I arrived at PCH. As I deplaned, an overwhelming sense of release surrounded me. I knew my decision to seek treatment at PCH for major depression was the right choice. Summer greeted me at baggage claim. We seemed to “click” right away. My trepidation about PCH Center diminished. When I arrived at the residence I was greeted with enthusiasm and smiles. I had entered a safe place in which I lived for two months. Treatment at PCH wasn’t always easy; progress takes time. The clinical staff was excellent and supportive. PCH sets the bar high as it relates to its therapists. Three months after my arrival, I’m headed back home. Although I’ll miss the PCH staff and clients, I’m ready to rejoin my family.” – February 2014