Symptoms of Depression & How Talk Therapy can Help

symptoms of depressionWhile the number of suicides is at its lowest in December, the number of people who report symptoms associated with depression is at its highest.  During the holidays, many of my clients report new symptoms of depression, including:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Inability to make decisions
  • sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • not wanting to be around other people
If you begin to experience any of the above symptoms or think you may have depression, talk therapy can be helpful, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  If you are not familiar with CBT, you can read about the basic premise for treating depression, anger, and anxiety using CBT in this Post.

One of the most common issues my clients struggle with during the holidays is that of managing expectations about people, events, and feelings. Many people have beliefs about the holidays that are simply not true, such as:

It is the best time of the year.
Everyone will show their love for everyone else.
Family will all gather together and feel only joy.
Carefully chosen presents will be appreciated.
My partner is going to give me that gift I have always wanted.
I am going to love going to 12 cocktail parties.
I have to eat and drink all that is offered.
I am going to use this family time to “fix” all our problems.
I can get by with only 4 hours of sleep.
This tree and my decorations are so fabulous, everyone will know and appreciate how hard I worked.
It is OK to stay up until 3:00am on a work day, because I have to have 4 dozen decorated cookies.
My child will not be able to survive if she does not get DaisyDoItAll Doll.
Everyone else is going to parties every night, I am only invited to one.
I lied to my friend and told her I was busy the night of her party, now I feel guilty.
Why is everyone else have such a great time, and I am miserable?  What is wrong with me?

This list goes on and on.  What are your expectations for the holiday time?  Do you share any of the above beliefs?  Your therapist may be able to help you see the connection between these unreasonable expectations and your symptoms of depression.

symptoms of depressionSome things you can try to help prevent falling into the holiday depression cycle are:
Plan ahead, make a schedule.
Only say “Yes” when you want to say “Yes”. Be okay with saying “No”.
Get your regular number of sleep hours each night.
Let go of Perfection, you can buy cookies at the store, eight strands of lights on the tree are enough.

Prepare a neutral response to conflictual situations, especially with family members.
Don’t expect anyone to behave in a way significantly different from the way they behaved last year, the holidays are not a good time to do a family “intervention” or “rescue”.
Don’t expect a partner of friend to be able to read your mind and deliver the perfect gift.
Create activities that you truly enjoy, even if they are outside your usual holiday traditions.

Challenge yourself to set realistic goals for your holiday time.  Remember, there will be things that do not go as planned.  Try to enjoy the good times.

Nelson Mandela’s Words are Therapy

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela had such a magical way with words.  Here is a SlideShare of some of his most therapeutic, inspirational quotes.

Talking About Eating Disorders


The holiday season is filled with parties and social events where food in a central focus.  As we gather together with others, the subjects of how much, what, when, and why we eat are common topics.  Often, a well-meaning friend or relative will use these conversations about food to bring up concerns about someone with an eating disorder.  They believe talking about eating disorders with a relative might be helpful.  If you are thinking about reaching out to someone you think may be struggling, it is best to educate yourself on the facts of these disorders before starting a discussion.

Colleen Thompson has helpful suggestions about things to say or do when you first approach someone.  She lists them in her article on

  • Avoid talking about food and weight, those are not the real issues
  • Assure them that they are not alone and that you love them and want to help in any way that you can
  • Encourage them to seek help
  • Never try to force them to eat
  • Do not comment on their weight or appearance
  • Do not blame the individual and do not get angry with them
  • Be patient, recovery takes time
  • Do not make mealtimes a battleground
  • Listen to them, do not be quick to give opinions and advice
  • Do not take on the role of a therapist

Remember:  Constant Supportive Compassion

Holly Scott, MBA, MS, LPC sees clients at Uptown Dallas Counseling. Holly is trained in the specialty of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and holds the position of Diplomate in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Holly works with clients to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives that may be preventing them from achieving happiness. She helps clients with stress management, depression, parenting, marriage counseling, and other mental health concerns. If you are looking for a counselor or therapist in t!he Uptown Dallas area, explore this website to see if Holly may be able to help you. 

To make an appointment for therapy or counseling with Holly at her Uptown Dallas Counseling, you have the option of using the Online Patient Portal to register and schedule. If you would prefer to talk with Holly to schedule an appointment, email, or call 214-953-9366, to talk with her about your counseling needs. 

Wonderful Post by Seth Godin on Anxiety

I read Seth Godin almost every day and love his work.  Today’s message is so spot-on in describing a healthy way to reframe anxiety that I am copying and pasting the entire post.  Enjoy.

reframing thoughts to treat anxiety

Trash talking important work

The self-induced anxiety formula often goes like this: What I’m about to do is important. I’ve never done it quite like this. It’s incredibly crucial, a turning point, a high risk venture, a moment in time I won’t have again. Therefore, I am nervous. And I need to get more nervous, because the importance of the moment warrants it. This is going to fail. I can vividly picture all the ways it won’t work…
On and on.
A common approach to decreasing the unhappy cycle is self talk to minimize how important the upcoming event is. The mantra is: No one will be watching, I’m exaggerating this moment, it’s no big deal, it’s not as important as you think, it doesn’t really matter…
The problem with that approach is that you spend your day trash talking your leverage and impact. By actively diminishing what you’ve accomplished, you make it less likely you’ll see yourself as worthy of even bigger achievements tomorrow.
In fact, it does matter. In fact, this is an important thing you’re about to do, and denigrating it undermines the very reason you’re doing this work in the first place.
Here’s an alternative: It’s okay to be nervous. Instead of fighting that anxiety, dance with it. Welcome it. Relish it. It’s a sign you’re on to something. “Oh good, here comes that itch!” This is important after all.
When we welcome a feeling like this, when we embrace it and actually look forward to it, the feeling doesn’t get louder and more debilitating. It softens, softens to the point where we can work with it.
Use your fear like fuel.
Try reading some of Seth’s other blog posts, he has some fantastic ideas.