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Demystifying the DSM: Depressed Mood and Depressive Disorders

Cristi Bundukamara, Ed. D, PMHNP (aka, Dr. B.), founder and creator of the Mentally STRONG Method, continues her series, Demystifying the DSM, focusing on depressive disorders – what causes them and the criteria for a diagnosis, and how to treat them.

Causes of Depressive Disorder

Everyone experiences depression for various reasons. Substance and medication-induced depression may happen when someone uses illegal or legal drugs, such as cannabis. Any medication that crosses the blood-brain barrier may affect mood. Cannabis, for instance, can cause depressive symptoms by causing a decrease in neurotransmission. Similarly, there may be a medical condition that is the cause of depression – making it essential for a holistic view of a person and their health when determining the cause of depression. Also, if a significant event in a person’s life, such as losing a close loved one, a persistent depressed mood may be a part of grieving. Again, if it persists for a long time, over a year, it may be time to seek professional intervention in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Depressive Disorders Vs. Depressed Mood

What is the difference between a “normal” depressed mood and a depressive disorder? It is when this mood interferes with everyday life and is persistent – lasting for long blocks rather than hours or days. If there is no specific cause and it persists, it is crucial to get help. Help, in form of identifying negative self-talk through CBT, among other cognitive distortions, may help. In the Mentally STRONG method, a CBT-based form of therapy, ten cognitive distortions may contribute to depression. Using the Mentally STRONG method, you can identify and work through them by thinking, organizing, and choosing.

Depressive Disorder Treatment

In the case of negative self-talk, it may be that you are often talking down to yourself – even unconsciously- causing your depression to fester and grow. Therapy can help you by slowing your thinking down, letting you listen to the unconscious or automatic thoughts, and learning to reframe them. Learning to love yourself and positively think about yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses, is vital to heal and grow beyond depression, making you Mentally STRONG.

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