Have you ever noticed your respiration rate increase during periods of heightened anxiety? It’s okay if you have — it’s completely normal and part of the body’s fight-or-flight reaction.
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 1, 2014
Depression is a serious, debilitating illness that’s also one of the most commonly-diagnosed mental disorders. When you’re first diagnosed, you may feel both relief (finally, a name for your pain) and overwhelmed (what the heck do you do next?).
Depression is now considered common, affecting about 340 million people worldwide. Although treatable, about half of all cases of depression go undiagnosed and unaddressed. Situational sadness is a typical and normal reaction to events, such as a recent loss, and is simply part of the human experience. Rather than suppress situational sadness, it is best to work through these periods with help from friends, psychotherapists or counselors. A more serious medical diagnosis is clinical depression – it can also be triggered by a recent loss or other sad event, but then grows out of proportion to the situation and persists longer than is appropriate, affecting emotional health. Clinical depression often requires other forms of treatment in addition to counseling and therapy.
One in 10 Americans say they have depression. Learn about depression facts and figures, find out who is at risk, and see beyond the numbers.
While psychotherapy remains the gold standard for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (see for example, Foa EB et al, Effective Treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. New York: Guilford Press; 2008), medications are often used to alleviate the symptoms of the illness. Since we last visited the topic of pharmacologic treatment for PTSD (TCPR, June 2007), there’s been some interesting research on this subject, including the use of antibiotics, steroids, and even the drug of abuse, ecstasy.
Only a minority of individuals exposed to trauma will develop PTSD. In attempting to determine the individual risk factors for PTSD, researchers have begun to observe natural recovery from trauma. One potential difference between those who recover naturally and those who continue to experience distressing symptoms might have to do with avoidance: cognitive, emotional and behavioral.
The cognitive model suggests that the belief that the world is excessively dangerous coupled with beliefs about personal incompetence is important in the development of PTSD (Foa & Rothbaum, 1998). Following a traumatic event, such beliefs might be reinforced and therefore lead to avoidance of everyday, previously normal tasks such as grocery shopping, socializing, and traveling by car. Additionally, beliefs about the importance of maintaining strict control over distressing emotions and thoughts might also be factors mediating the development of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000). Following a traumatic event, these beliefs might lead to attempts to avoid thoughts and memories of the traumatic event and the associated upsetting emotions.
In contrast, natural recovery from trauma might be enhanced by a willingness to return, over time, to normal activities. This behavior may strengthen beliefs about personal ability to manage difficulty, that other people are not generally dangerous, and that even extremely uncomfortable emotions are manageable.
One CBT approach for PTSD systematically and strategically recreates this recovery process by targeting the tendency to avoid feared situations and distressing recollections and emotions. By systematically approaching the avoided stimuli, the individual can learn the same lessons as the person who recovers without intervention. With the assistance of a skilled cognitive behavior therapist, individuals can acquire more accurate and helpful beliefs about themselves, others, and the world following the experience of a traumatic event.
Ehlers, A., & Clark, D.M. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 319-345.
Foa, E.B., & Rothbaum, B.O. (1998). Treating the trauma of rape: Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD. New York: Guilford Press.
Latinas are one group most likely to suffer from clinical depression.
Depression can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, but when it comes to rates of depression, women fare worse than men, and Latinas are at an even higher risk of clinical depression when compared to non-Hispanic white women.
Much of the gender disparity can be attributed to how differently men and women respond to stress in their lives.
Depression in Latinos is a serious issue despite the cultural belief the condition is minor.
Latinos are more likely than other ethnicities to experience a major depressive episode, according to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). But when it comes to depression in Latinos, not only are there barriers to proper care, but there is also a certain stigma surrounding depression–and mental illness in general.