My personal stance on taking medication for illnesses like depression and anxiety tends to change from client to client. For some clients I suggest they might find medication useful. For instance, a client that is debilitated by depression and anxiety to the point where they don’t even want to try therapeutic techniques, needs pharmaceutical help. A client that seems to be functioning well intellectually and shows motivation to change and has the internal and external ability to do so, would probably be more likely to benefit from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach.
Oversleeping(Teenagers may disregard this section)
Sometimes, clients come to me with symptoms that they don’t think are serious, but are. One of those is oversleeping. We live in a fast paced society that encourages our attention to flicker from one thing to another. In order to adapt, we process small, but numerous chunks of information at any one time. With a brain that is constantly engaged, it makes sense that when bedtime comes around, our brains have problems shutting off. A lack of sleep or insomnia seems to be a common modern affliction. And having bouts of insomnia seems reasonable. So, when a client feels sleepy and tired all the time, they see wanting that sleep as a positive indication of their mental health. Feeling tired feels good, right? So what could be wrong with that?
Only 15% of people with depression oversleep. By oversleeping I mean needing more than 10 hours sleep a day. According to the National Sleep Foundation we need 7 – 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour cycle. But I say 10 hours to accommodate possible outliers.
The rest who suffer from depression tend to have more problems with insomnia. While insomnia is a problem in itself, and puts a person at danger during their daily tasks (like driving a car), there are many techniques and changes a person can make to increase the likelihood of getting enough sleep. A psychologist can help you with that. While there is a common perception of people with depression as layabouts with no energy, but that tends to be a function of insomnia rather than oversleeping.
If you’re showing signs of oversleeping needing 10 or more hours a day, or needing to sleep all the time, it might be time to see a doctor.
Other possible causes for oversleeping are:
- Sleep Apnea
Another sign that you need to see a doctor is when you stop taking care of your hygiene. When the daily routine of showering, cleaning, brushing your teeth and combing your hair becomes too much. You need to see a doctor.
At this point you’re becoming classified as low – mid functioning. Struggling with small tasks is a sign that your depression is becoming more serious and needs extra help from our medical friends. With a little medical help, you can recover that energy to look after yourself and you’ll be much more likely to benefit from any therapy you receive from a psychologist.
Loss Of Appetite
A loss of appetite can seek to fuel depressive symptoms. We need food to nurture our body and our mind. Healthy food that is. And if you do not have an appetite, or are feeling sick at the sight of food, you need to see a doctor.
Some people overeat to deal with their negative feelings. A psychologist can implement behavior techniques to treat that, but a lack of appetite and feeling sick at the sight of food is harder for a psychologist to treat. You need to eat. You need fruit, vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates. Without these your body begins to go into starvation mode which is added stress on top of your already presenting mental health issues.
It is possible that seeing a psychologist may increase your mood, which may increase your appetite, but your therapy sessions are going to be affected by a lack of glucose in your system, which is what fuels your brain.
Please don’t take any of these symptoms lightly. This is your life and your body/mind. Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself and never neglect yourself. Medication can be helpful kick-starter to getting treatment for depression. Ruling out other causes of depression-like-symptoms is also important.
- It is not okay to go days (3+) or weeks without maintaining hygiene or completing daily tasks. See a doctor.
- If you are oversleeping at night (10+) then feeling the need to sleep the following day as well. See a doctor.
- If you are not eating and feel sick at the sight of food. Please see a doctor.