Adult Depression & Bipolar Disorder

Depression has sometimes been referred to as the common cold of emotional health due to its frequency and high prevalence rates. Depression can affect anyone from young to mature adults and may not even be traceable to a specific stressor or event. However, increased stress or difficult events in an individual’s life can often worsen symptoms of depression. Depression can lead to impairment in work, college, social, and relationship functioning. It is a serious medical condition that can precipitate dangerous behaviors from poor decision making to suicide. Symptoms of depression can range from minor to severe and should be considered a serious medical condition that cannot only impair emotional health and functioning, but also physical health.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression may include:

  • Depressed, sad, or irritable mood

  • Social withdrawal

  • Loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure

  • Lowered motivation

  • Ambivalence and self-neglect

  • Lowered self-esteem

  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness

  • Low frustration tolerance, agitation, difficulty getting along with others

  • Somatic symptoms such as tiredness or fatigue

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Anxiety

  • Increased alcohol or drug use

Effective treatments for depression include therapy as well as medication prescribed through a general doctor or psychiatrist. The combination of medication and counseling may provide the most effective treatment for depression. Talk therapy will often focus on increasing insight and understanding of depression, enhancing motivation, identifying and replacing negative thinking and behavioral patterns with healthier ones, and improving relationships with others. A counselor provides a confidential and supportive environment to discuss problems associated with depression. Finding a counselor or therapist that is a good match and with whom one is comfortable with is especially important in ensuring the success of counseling.

Counseling goals for depression typically include:

  • Stabilize and improve mood through learning how to identify thoughts and behaviors that lead to depressed and sad feelings and strategies to change thoughts and actions

  • Examine life stressors and other possible origins of depressed feelings and create strategies to change, resolve, and/or cope with stressors and problems

  • Improve motivation and increased goal directed behaviors by reassessing priorities and activity scheduling

  • Gain insight into behaviors and thinking that decrease self-esteem and happiness and develop skills to feel more confident and happy

  • Examine relationship stress and reassess approaches to create more positive and healthy relationships

  • Improve ability to cope with stressors and effectively deal with adversity

Adults sometimes do not recognize that they are depressed. It is common for adults to feel that there is nothing they can do about their depressed mood or feel embarrassed or anxious to talk about these feelings. Depression, especially in men, can often present as agitation or irritability instead of sadness. In fact, irritability, difficulty enjoying oneself, and low frustration tolerance are common symptoms of depression. Anxiety is also a common component of depression.

Depression is no one’s fault and the causes of depression vary. While genetically some individuals may be more vulnerable to depression and life stressors that can lead to depression, depression can affect anyone. For those suffering from depression, everyday tasks can become difficult and activities that once brought joy can lose their appeal. Depression can affect relationships and individuals with depression may experience increased frustration from others due to their condition.

If you are looking for a psychologist or counselor proficient in providing adult counseling, family therapy, marriage counseling, or psychological testing, click on our staff page to learn more about our psychologists and therapists or click on services for more details regarding treatment for different problems.

Adult Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder can be an extremely debilitating disorder causing emotional, behavioral, and relationship problems. Bipolar disorder is nearly always treated with medication and individual or family therapy can be an adjunct to treatment for Bipolar Disorder. Adults suffering from Bipolar Disorder may currently be experiencing or have experienced a major depressive episode as well as periods of intense elevated or agitated mood characterized as manic or hypomanic episodes. During these episodes, an individual can engage in risk-taking behavior, may experience intense energy, can make impulsive or poor decisions, and may even experience psychotic symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of adult Bipolar may include:

  • Impulsive or sensation seeking behaviors

  • Destructive or angry outbursts

  • Rapid shifts in mood

  • Fast or pressured speech or excessive talkativeness

  • Periods of depression or normal mood interrupted by discrete episodes of elevated or excitable mood or intense agitation

  • Racing thoughts

  • Grandiosity or exaggerated sense of self-worth or power

Therapy for Bipolar Disorder is often supportive in nature, yet can also include enhancing inner resources and coping strength to help avoid or neutralize future mood episodes. Bipolar Disorder can cause problems in relationships and within families. Individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder can often experience increased stress due to the negative reactions their symptoms cause in their relationships with others. Family therapy can be helpful in educating family members in strategies to effectively support individuals with Bipolar Disorder as well as aid in problem solving and improving communication. Psychological testing can also be important in helping individuals, psychiatrists, and other therapists discern Bipolar Disorder from other mental health problems that may share some of the same features.

In addition to treatment goals discussed in the depression section above, treatment goals for Bipolar will also typically include:

  • Gain insight into patterns and triggers that may affect the disorder

  • Develop strategies and skills to increase ability to regulate moods and emotional stability

  • Reduce impulsivity and poor decision making through exploration, reflection, and plans for substitution of more healthy behaviors

  • Protect and nurture relationships with others and neutralize the effects the illness may have on relationships with others