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distressed woman

Screening Information: Depression & PTSD

While I do not encourage people to self-diagnose mental or physical illnesses, I do think it's good to be informed about the symptoms of some of the more common problems that occur such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am including some information for this purpose; it may help you determine whether it's a good idea to get some professional help at this time. However, this information is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat these conditions. It is merely meant to help you identify what symptoms may be causing you distress at this time.


There are many types of mood disorders, including Dysthymic Disorder (moderate, chronic depression), Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar I and II Disorders (with episodes of mania or hypomania), and Cyclothymic Disorder (like Dysthymic Disorder but with mild hypomanic episodes interspersed with moderate, chronic depression). 

Sometimes it is hard to know if you have depression, or are just having a sad mood. Sad moods come and go under normal circumstances, and usually, don't last all day or most of the day. Some people describe depression as feeling "blah" or "down", while others feel a painful emptiness that is quite hard to describe. When at least five of these symptoms are present at the same time, it is important to find out more from a qualified professional:

  • Everything seems negative to you

  • You lack the motivation to do things that you want or need to do

  • You get sick more easily than before (with colds, flu, etc.)

  • Your energy is very low and even getting out of bed seems like a monumental effort

  • You feel helpless and hopeless to do anything to change your life for the better

  • Your appetite is abnormal (you either have no interest in food or you overeat)

  • You are more sensitive than usual to criticism from others

  • You feel bad about yourself and guilty about things that don't make sense to other people

  • You move and speak slowly, enough that other people notice

  • You think that you would be better off dead and/or think about hurting yourself

  • You find it difficult to sleep or sleep more than usual. You may wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and cannot get back to sleep.

If these symptoms have been going on more days than not for at least two weeks, please talk to your medical doctor about whether psychotherapy and/or medications would be right for you. Please also give me a call at 661-233-6771 to discuss how I can help you. With more information, we can see whether or to what extent depression may be impacting your life. I can help you create a life worth living and prevent your depression from worsening. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When a stressful, deeply disturbing event happens to you, it can be very disruptive to your life. It's also hard to deal with when life-threatening events happen to people you love. You may fluctuate between reliving the event emotionally and mentally, to feeling numb.  Here are some of the symptoms that characterize PTSD, drawn from the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association. When you identify with many of the symptoms, it's important to find out more from a qualified professional:

  • After experiencing the traumatic event, you feel intense fear, helplessness or horror

  • If a child has experienced the traumatic event, he or she might be confused or show agitated behavior

  • A child might re-experience the traumatic event by repeatedly expressing the trauma in his/her play

  • You keep re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive thoughts, feelings, images, nightmares, flashbacks, hallucinations, etc.

  • Images, thoughts, or feelings that relate to the event keep popping up

  • You have recurring nightmares about the event (in children it might be a nonspecific disturbing dream without recognizable connection to the event)

  • You act or feel like the event is happening now (e.g., illusions, hallucinations, flashbacks)

  • You get very upset when you see/hear something that reminds you of the event. (For example, if you were bitten by a dog, just seeing a dog can make you fearful)

  • Your body is very reactive when exposed to cues that remind you of the trauma. (For example, someone who was attacked may have a hard time being touched without flinching or abruptly moving away from another's touch)

  • You avoid things that remind you of the event or that you associate with the event and become numb in general to things that you used to respond to

  • You try to avoid thoughts, feelings or talking about the trauma

  • You avoid activities, places or people that make you think about the trauma

  • You cannot call an important feature of the trauma

  • You are not interested in things that you used to participate in, or you avoid doing things that used to be important to you

  • You feel detached or estranged from other people

  • You express emotion a lot less than before the event you don't show feelings that you used to show

  • You have a sense that you could die early or that you won't enjoy things in the future because you won't be here

  • You keep having more sensitivity and arousal to things outside yourself.

  • You have difficulty falling or staying asleep

  • You have angry outbursts or feeling irritated with people

  • It is hard for you to concentrate

  • You feel on guard all the time like you have to watch everyone and everything around you for signs of danger

  • You startle more easily than before the event

  • Your symptoms make it hard to handle significant parts of your life, like school, work, or relationships with others

  • You've been having symptoms like these for at least one month after the event

If you can recognize some of these symptoms in yourself and you are concerned, please talk to your medical doctor about whether psychotherapy and/or medications would be right for you. Please also give me a call at 661-233-6771 to see if I can help you with your symptoms. With more information, we can determine how PTSD is impacting your life. I want to help you get your life back to how you want it to be. I am sure we both want you to be free of the clutches of this awful event!

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