The "hidden" disorder

Depression is not something that's imagined, or "all in your head." It's not even just "a case of the blues." Much like high blood pressure or allergies, depression can be diagnosed and is one of the most treatable disorders. Yet, as common as it is, depression is misunderstood, and many times not recognized.

How could something so common go untreated so often? Some people may not seek treatment for depression because they feel that, sooner or later, they'll "snap out of it." Some may consider depression a weakness or personal failure that they should be able to handle on their own. And some may not realize how readily available and effective treatment is. Some people who may be depressed often don't discuss their symptoms with their doctors and their depression remains hidden. The result is that people who might be successfully treated for depression continue to suffer because they don't seek the help that is available to them.

The signs of depression

How can you tell if you may be suffering from depression? How do you know if you should talk to a professional about it? One way to find the answers to these important questions is to begin with the following checklist. Depression has specific symptoms with which a Licensed Pastoral Psychotherapist will be familiar. Read the checklist and mark the descriptions that best apply to how you've been feeling. If you've experienced five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks take the list to the New England Pastoral Institute. The list may make it easier to describe and discuss your symptoms with a pastoral psychotherapist.


  • I don't enjoy the things that once gave me pleasure (e.g., job, hobbies, sports, friends, family, sex).
  • My sleep patterns have changed, and I don't sleep enough, or maybe too much.
  • I feel sad and/or irritable.
  • I can't concentrate, remember things, or make decisions.
  • I've been having medically unexplainable aches and pains.
  • My appetite and/or weight has changed.
  • My friends and/or family have noticed that I am restless or that my activity has decreased.
  • I am tired all the time and have no energy.
  • I feel guilty hopeless, or worthless.
  • I often think about death, or have even tried to commit suicide.

What's it all about

It's important to note that while the symptoms of depression are constant, not everyone will experience all of the symptoms or the same symptoms. Also, some people suffer from depression only once in their lifetime. Others may experience it again and again.

The length of time that depression can last varies. Depression may go on for months, and even years. Your family and friends, how you perform on the job, and every other aspect of your day-to-day life may be affected. Without treatment, there's a chance that you might suffer from repeated episodes of depression.

Who is likely to become depressed?

Anyone—no matter what their age, race, religion, or gender—can be affected by depression. But it seems as though some people are more likely to become depressed than others. For example, like families with a history of heart disease or alcoholism, people who have a family history of depression might show symptoms of depression in their own lives. And although anyone can become depressed at any age, studies show that men and women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are most often affected by this disorder. Women in general seem to suffer depression more often than men. In fact, recent studies suggest that because of factors that include being victims of abuse, in poverty, or fulfilling multiple social roles (e.g., homemaker, employee, spouse), women are twice as likely to have an episode of depression.

Can life events cause depression?

Although the exact cause of depression is unknown, the belief is widely held that stressful life events might contribute to the onset of or the underlying presence of a depressive episode. Some of these events might include the death of a loved one, losing a job, or separation or divorce. Other situations that might trigger an episode are a serious physical injury or a chronic illness or condition, such as cancer or diabetes. Sometimes, though, there may not be an apparent "cause" for the depression. Sometimes, it just happens.

Depression takes different forms.

If you suffer from the medical condition known as major depression, you may feel sad, lifeless, and empty. Or, you might feel agitated, restless, and angry. Sometimes you may not sleep enough or, less commonly, you may sleep too much. You may gain or lose weight. You might lose interest in family and friends and the day-to-day activities that you normally enjoy. And, you may even begin thinking about suicide.

Of course, just because you feel sad does not mean that you have major depression. After all, not all sad people are depressed. And not all depressed people feel sad. So, what's the first step?

Talking to your doctor or one of the licensed pastoral psychotherapists at New England Pastoral Institute is the first step. The pastoral psychotherapists at the Institute have the unique professional skills to bring your faith resources and spiritual perspectives to your recovery from depression. Don't let fear stand in your way. The good news is that most people with depression will respond to treatment. You will get the help and support necessary to begin enjoying your life again.

For an appointment or for additional information about treatment of depression, contact us.