RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Depression

Tell Me Again What You Think of Me: Depression and Reassurance-Seeking in Couples

Man comforting his sad mourning friendApproximately 18.1 million Americans adults suffer from depression each year.[1] They experience symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, persistent feelings of sadness, disinterest in once-pleasurable activities, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, and even thoughts of death.  In addition to these symptoms, depression also negatively affects communication in close interpersonal relationships, such as with friends, partners, and family members.

For example, depressed individuals are more likely to engage in reassurance-seeking behavior: asking for affirmation that he or she is lovable, worthy, and valued.[2]  Although most people ask for reassurance occasionally, individuals with depression tend to seek reassurance persistently and repeatedly, even after their partners have already offered it.[3] Some experts even suggest that excessive requests for interpersonal approval may be both a cause and a consequence of depression,[4] due in part to depressed individuals’ tendency to doubt or dismiss positive feedback from others.

A group of researchers at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, led by Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, studied the links between reassuring-seeking behavior and depression among couples.  In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University, the researchers investigated the communication behavior of 69 couples seeking treatment for relationship problems and depression.  Results of the study, which was funded by the Randy Gerson Memorial Research Award from the American Psychological Foundation, indicated that depressive symptoms were a primary predictor of reassurance-seeking behavior in couples.[5]  The researchers’ next step is to begin testing interventions designed to help reduce excessive reassurance-seeking, and increase positive communication and validation, among couples seeking treatment for depression.

Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD,  is a licensed clinical psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, with expertise in couples therapy, premarital counseling, depression and anxiety disorders, infertility and adoption. Additionally, she maintains a clinical research program, with a primary focus on the associations between couples’ interpersonal behavior, relationship distress, and individual psychopathology. 

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester.  The Institute also conducts research which is incorporated into both our Clinical Service and Education Programs. Learn more about our Depression Treatment Program. Visit our website to learn more about our services.

References:

[1] Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 617-627.

[2] Joiner, T. E., Jr., Metalsky, G. I., Katz, J., & Beach, S. R. H. (1999). Depression and excessive reassurance-seeking. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 269-278.

[3] Pettit, J. W., & Joiner, T. E., Jr. (2006). Chronic depression. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

[4] Haeffel, G. J., Voelz, Z. R., & Joiner, T. E., Jr. (2007). Vulnerability to depressive symptoms: Clarifying the role of excessive reassurance seeking and perceived social support in an interpersonal model of depression. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 681-688.

[5] Knobloch, L.K., Knobloch-Fedders, L.M., & Durbin, C.E. (2011).  Depressive symptoms and relational uncertainty as predictors of reassurance-seeking and negative feedback-seeking in conversation.  Communication Monographs, 78, 437-462.

National Depression Screening Day

In commemoration of National Depression Screening Day, we would like to share an archived post explaining depression.

My life is such a mess

Paula Young, PhD, Family Institute staff therapist and director of The Family Institute Cognitive Behavior Therapies Program, provides her insights on the symptoms of depression, as well as depression treatment options.

What is Depression?

Depression is more than just a passing mood or stress. Depression is a serious mental illness, which affects mood, thought, body, and behavior.  In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, depression is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual’s ability to function at work or home, or with friends and family. It is more than the blues, yet many still view it as “personal weakness” or a “character flaw.”

Symptoms of depression include a sad or low mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite, changes in sleep, low energy, thoughts of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Major Depressive Disorder often begins between ages 15-30 or even earlier. Some people have one episode in a lifetime; others have recurrent episodes. For some, depression is a chronic illness. A less severe type of depression, Dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Other Facts about Depression

  • Depression may be associated with life events such as significant losses (spouses, children, jobs) or major financial difficulties.
  • Personality factors such as undue dependency and low self-esteem may also be associated with a vulnerability to depression.
  • There’s an increased risk for developing depression when there is a family history of these illnesses.  Where a genetic vulnerability exists, onset probably results from a combination of vulnerability and life experience.
  • Depression often co-occurs with medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders.  When this happens, the presence of both illnesses is frequently unrecognized and may lead to serious and unnecessary consequences for clients and families.

If you think that you or someone you know suffers from depression, or if you would like additional information, please call The Family Institute at 847-733-4300, ext. 635, or email us at cbt@family-institute.org .

‘Mental’ vs. ‘Physical’ Illness

Mental healthOver 21 million Americans had diabetes in 2012 (American Diabetes Association). In addition to its impact on the individual, the disease was responsible for $69 billion in economic costs due to lost productivity. In light of these facts, diabetes is rightly acknowledged to be a major public health issue, and prevention and treatment are public priorities.

At the same time, over 43 million Americans are estimated to experience a mental illness in a given year. The costs associated with these disorders are greater than those of diabetes, respiratory disorders and cancer combined (World Economic Forum). Neuropsychiatric disorders, including mental illness, are the leading cause of disability in the United States (NIMH). And mental illness can be lethal: among adults in the United States, suicide is the 4th leading cause of death, surpassing other causes including diabetes, stroke and homicide.

Due in part to the stigma that continues to be associated with mental illness, conversations around its personal and societal impacts are less frequent and less public than those about physical illnesses. This distinction has profound effects. While those affected by physical illness are likely to seek treatment, individuals with a mental illness may hesitate to even acknowledge a problem exists. Due to the “mental” vs. “physical” distinction, they may feel shame for being ill, fail to receive support and understanding from loved ones, or may be unaware that effective treatments are available.

Mental Health Awareness month is a time to change the conversation. Rather than being separate and distinct, mental and physical health are intertwined: physical illness impacts mental well-being, and mental disorders have physical symptoms and consequences. And just like physical ailments, mental illness is treatable.

Since its founding, The Family Institute has been committed to promoting healthy family functioning and individual mental health and wellness through prevention and effective treatment. For example, in the case of individual mental health, our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) team has been helping people access empirically-validated treatments for anxiety and depressive disorders for over a decade. Such treatments have been shown to provide significant relief or eliminate symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders, which together account for about 44% of mental illnesses.

Raising awareness about effective treatments that restore mental wellness is one way to begin reducing the disparity in attitudes towards “mental” and “physical” ailments. The impact of mental illness is on par with that of physical illness, but in many cases, so is our ability to treat it.

The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program at The Family Institute specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and depressive disorders. Using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), clinicians work collaboratively with their clients to identify personalized, time-limited therapy goals and strategies, which are then continually monitored and evaluated throughout treatment. If you think that you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, OCD or depression, or if you would like additional information, please email cbt@family-institute.org.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. To learn more about our therapy and mental health services, please visit our website.

 

 

Interrupting the Spiral of Depression and Anxiety

Group Of Friends Enjoying Breakfast In Kitchen TogetherIn many ways, the convenience of the Internet has made our lives easier and more pleasant. From ordering groceries to a weekend TV binge, the Internet can provide for many of our needs without requiring us to change out of our pajamas. That very seamless convenience, however, can be hazardous for people suffering with anxiety or depression.

Jackson Connor, a contributor to Munchies.com, discovered that relying on Internet deliveries of food and other necessities exacerbated his tendency towards social isolation, creating a downward spiral of depression. Beginning to cook for himself was one way in which he was able to reverse this trajectory. In “Learning to Cook is Helping Me Battle Depression”, he explains the circuitous nature of depression.

As Mr. Connor explains, changing small aspects of daily life to fight depression is a tenet of behavioral activation therapy, one of the approaches practiced by The Family Institute’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy team (CBT). A CBT therapist helps a client identify a valued behavior — whether cooking, going to the movies or simply going for a walk — and then encourages them to engage in it as much as they are able. In time, this can help to pull them away from the alluring ease of the GrubHub, Netflix and the rest, and begin to reengage with life.

 

The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program at The Family Institute specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and depressive disorders. Using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), clinicians work collaboratively with their clients to identify personalized, time-limited therapy goals and strategies, which are then continually monitored and evaluated throughout treatment. If you think that you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, OCD or depression, or if you would like additional information, please email cbt@family-institute.org.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. To learn more about our therapy and mental health services, please visit our website.

School Refusal: What parents need to know

Parents see it every year: their child doesn’t feel like going to school. But what if they miss weeks of school at a time? Or what if they refuse to get out of bed in the morning or want to go home once they are at school? This may be less about truancy and more a symptom of school refusal.

In today’s blog, Dr. Julie Saflarski explains that school refusal is very different from typical truancy. It is much more severe than Ferris Bueller faking sick for a day to play hooky with his friends.

School refusal is a pattern of behaviors that often stem from emotional distress that are triggered by the school environment. Initially coined “school phobia,” it was later understood to be fueled by symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Since the early 2000s, “school refusal” has been the preferred term to grasp these emotional responses to attending school.

School refusal is a gradual process that can get worse over time if left unaddressed. Recurring signs include:

  • Unexcused absences
  • Tardiness to class
  • Absences on significant days where testing, speeches or physical education classes are being held
  • Requests to go to the nurse’s office
  • Requests to call home or to go home during the day

Each child varies as to why they may be avoiding school. School refusal may begin with simple warning signs such as those listed above. The more they persist, the more likely the behavior will escalate.

School refusal is seen in about 1-5% of all school-aged children. It is most common in young children ages five to six as they start school for the first time. Other stressful transitional periods may also cause school refusal, such as starting middle school or junior high school.

In our next blog, Why Does My Child Refuse to Go to School?, Dr. Saflarski will discuss the common causes and recommendations for addressing school refusal with your child.

 

Dr. Julie Saflarski has valuable clinical experience working with children and adolescents both in and outside of schools around Chicago. Dr. Saflarski has expertise in working with children who struggle with symptoms of anxiety, depression, special needs and developmental disabilities. She also works to help support parents and families to best promote healthy development and resilience in their children. Learn more about Dr. Julie Saflarski on our website.

The Family Institute offers therapy and counseling for children, adolescents, parents and families at our Evanston, downtown Chicago, Westchester and Northbrook locations. Visit our website to learn more.

 

About 14.8 Million Americans Live With Major Depression*

Posted on

 

DepressionTo commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week, TFI Talks is focusing on the definitions, symptoms, diagnoses and treatment of a variety of mental illnesses. Today’s post focuses on Depression. 

 

Everyone feels sadness at one time or another. It is a natural response that helps us cope with change and loss. However, when these symptoms are persistent or have an adverse effect on daily living, they may represent a more serious condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression.

Depression is unlike the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states; it’s a serious mental illness that effects mood, thought, body and behavior. It is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual’s ability to function at work or at home, with friends or with family. It’s more than the blues, yet many still view it as “personal weakness” or a “character flaw.”

Major Depressive Disorder often begins between ages 15-30 or even earlier. Some people have one episode in a lifetime; others have recurrent episodes.  For some, depression is a chronic illness.  A less severe type of depression, Dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia may also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.

Other Facts about Depression

  • Depression may be associated with life events such as significant losses (spouses, children, jobs) or major financial difficulties.
  • Personality factors such as undue dependency and low self-esteem may also be associated with a vulnerability to depression.
  • There’s an increased risk for developing depression when there is a family history of these illnesses.  Where a genetic vulnerability exists, onset probably results from a combination of vulnerability and life experience.
  • Depression often co-occurs with medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders.  When this happens, the presence of both illnesses is frequently unrecognized and may lead to serious and unnecessary consequences for clients and families.

 

The Family Institute’s Depression Treatment Program uses evidence-based therapy to diagnose and treat major depressive disorders. Learn more about these services on our website.

*Statistic provided by the National Alliance on Mental Health

The Benefits of Antidepressants Plus Therapy

Posted on

New research, co-authored by Family Institute therapist and Director of the Depression Treatment ProgramPaula Young, PhD, shows that for some individuals dealing with depression, medication may not be enough.

The study, published yesterday in Jama Psychiatry, details how individuals dealing with the most common form of depression saw better recovery when treated with a combination of antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Since publication, the story has been covered by Medical Daily and Time Magazine

Stay tuned to TFI Talks for more information about depression and depression treatment from our experts, including Dr. Young.

 

%d bloggers like this: