Information on Depression and Stress Disorders

Description of psychological disorders by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Ashburn, VA

Depression and Stress Disorders



Major depression is a complex disorder composed of a tightly-linked pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The initial cause of a depression is often some sort of loss: loss of job, breakup of a relationship, loss of a loved one, etc. Although it is normal to experience varying degrees of sadness in response to losses, clinical depression is more than normal sadness: it is an ongoing process of negative thinking, uncomfortable feelings, changes in behavior, and unpleasant physical symptoms. Common symptoms are extreme sadness, loss of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness, and a sense that life is no longer enjoyable. Physical symptoms such as aches and pains, loss of energy, difficulty sleeping, extreme tiredness, and changes in weight are also commonly reported.

As depression becomes chronic, it can begin to feel as if you are trapped in a downward spiral. The link between thinking, feeling, and behavior becomes ever stronger and difficulties in any one area can trigger the entire syndrome.

Depression is often thought of as being a biological disease, and there are biological consequences of longer-term depression, even if the initial cause of the depression is social in nature. Changes in brain chemistry and function may occur as the depression lingers, and a history of several episodes of depression can leave you vulnerable to a recurrence. These factors make it very difficult to recover from severe depression without professional help.

Stress Disorders

Life is stressful. Concerns over finances, employment, physical health, or the welfare of others can result in worry and stress. Ongoing stress that is not managed effectively can have an adverse impact on how you think, feel, and behave and serve to worsen a variety of physical and mental problems. Examples include: chronic headache or other chronic pain, problems with overeating, anxiety-like symptoms, depression, or symptoms of physical illness such as hypertension or diabetes. It is also common for unexplained physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, or tingling in extremities to be caused or worsened by uncontrolled stress. If reactions become extreme and begin to interfere with day-to-day functioning, treatment is warranted.