Take Depression Seriously?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, ok so I’m not even sure what my problem is exactly. I’ve felt this horrible for a little over a year now, and I never got help until this semester. I started seeing a counselor. I always do research on depression and that type of stuff and I just really aren’t even sure what I have. All of the quizzes say I am severely depressed but I don’t know if I’m magnifying my problems or if they are even worth seeking help for. So all the help I am getting right now is weekly counseling sessions. Should I seek for something else? I really just kind of want to know if I am actually depressed, clinically, or not. Also, my counselor is from the school clinic, so he is a counselor but not a psychologist o will r anything. I just don’t know. Do you think it is worth finding out more seriously?

A. You say that you felt horrible for little over a year now but you’re not sure whether or not you have depression. You took quizzes that showed that you are severely depressed. Without knowing more about what you’ve been feeling for the past year, it’s difficult to know if you have an “official” diagnosis of depression. If you took the quizzes and they indicated that you were depressed then it’s likely that you have depression.

You said that you are getting weekly counseling sessions at the school clinic. You made a smart choice when you decided to go for help. You’re also concerned with the idea that the school counselor is only a “counselor” and maybe not a psychologist. He may be a psychologist who refers to himself as a counselor. Some mental professionals use the term counselor, therapist or psychologist interchangeably. Even if he were not a psychologist he is probably highly trained in the area of helping individuals with mental health disorders. I am not sure if you’re aware of this but many school clinics have excellent counseling centers staffed with many highly skilled and trained individuals. School clinics across the country staff some of the best mental health personnel. If you’re really concerned about this issue then it may make you feel better to ask your counselor what his qualifications are.

You asked if going to counseling once a week was enough. It’s difficult to answer that question without knowing more about what your symptoms are. I would suggest that you talk to your counselor about what the best treatment would be for you at this time. You can and should ask your counselor what he thinks you might be suffering from. You can ask him what diagnosis he gave you. You can also ask him whether or not you need to attend counseling sessions more than one time a week or if you need a referral to a psychiatrist for medication. Since it’s the end of the school year I’m wondering if you’re going back home for the summer or if you’re planning to remain on campus. If you are going home then you should ask your counselor for a referral to see a counselor while you’re home for the summer. If you’re going to be on campus then you can assess how often you should be attending treatments. If you attend treatments with this counselor and you don’t find it helpful then you could ask for a different counselor. If you attend counseling once a week and you don’t think it’s enough then you ask to attend more often or ask to be referred to a clinic that accommodates individuals wanting more frequent counseling sessions. Again, how often you should attend counseling depends on how bad your symptoms are and how you feel after you leave each session.

You started your question by saying that you aren’t sure whether or not you have depression but that your symptoms emerged about a year ago. If I could talk to you in person I would want to know more about what you are feeling and what happened a year ago when this all started. If you would have provided that information then I may have been able to give you a more informed or definitive answer about whether or not you have depression.

I think you are taking this problem seriously, if you were not then I would highly doubt that you’d be in counseling. Counseling is what I would’ve recommended if you had not already started. I think you’re off to a really good start. As a mentioned before if you find that the counseling is not helpful then you need to reevaluate either how often you attend counseling or whether or not you need a new counselor. I think at this point you seem to be doing all you can. Keep attending counseling, make changes when necessary and if you keep it up there is a good likelihood that you will feel better. Thank you for writing I wish you luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Take Depression Seriously?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/04/27/take-depression-seriously/