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Depression and Anxiety - Why They Can Feel So Hopeless and What to Do About Them



As an LGBTQ+ counselor one of the most frequent complaints I hear from clients is that they have been struggling "for years" with depression or anxiety--and typically, that "nothing" has helped. Clients commonly tell me that they have spent years in psychotherapy or have taken antidepressant medications but that most days they lack motivation and drive to complete those tasks of daily living, which many of us take for granted. Depression and anxiety can feel overwhelming, and making the decision to seek treatment--especially when past treatments have not proven successful--can feel daunting and highly intimidating.


Fortunately, depression and anxiety tend to be very amenable to the right treatments. Depression and anxiety frequently occur together and share many attributes with one another:


  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair/panic

  • Decreased motivation

  • Avoiding leisure activities and social interactions, which were previously beneficial

  • Feeling irritable, easily frustrated or on-edge

  • Difficulties with sleeping well

  • Changes in appetite, such as eating more than usual or less than usual

  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things

  • Feeling lethargic and tired

  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt, worthlessness or shame

  • Digestive problems or aches and pains, which do not improve with treatment

  • Thoughts of suicide or intentional self-injury


I always tell clients that not all psychotherapies are created equally. What I mean in saying this is that some have demonstrated greater effectiveness in clinical studies than others. In fact, some research has even shown greater effectiveness than antidepressant treatment alone and that, for some conditions, the effects of psychotherapy--such as cognitive-behavioral therapy--may last longer than antidepressant treatment.


Both anxiety and depression are strongly associated with changes in thinking: thinking generally becomes more black and white and generalized (e.g., "Nothing ever works out for me" or "Everybody thinks I'm weird"). Such extremist thinking tends to result in behaviors such as social isolation and avoiding taking social risks, which in turn reinforces this type of thinking, causing it to occur more frequently--thus perpetuating feelings of depression and anxiety.


Psychotherapy modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and its close relative rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) act by aiding clients in examining and challenging those aspects of their thinking, which are reinforcing these feelings. Over a relatively short period of time, clients generally report that they feel more self-empowered, less self-conscious and apprehensive, and more motivated in their daily lives.


If you are struggling with depression and anxiety, I would love to talk with you about how I can help get you back on track. Visit me online, and let's arrange a time to discuss your situation. I've helped many regain their confidence, and I feel confident that I can help you, as well.

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