Licensed Psychologist

Lic #Psy 19808

171 Front St. Suite #204

Danville, CA 94526

925.648.4941


drsaradenman@gmail.com

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It seems that everywhere we look there is a book, article, or talk show host talking about how to reduce stress and anxiety. One of the most common issues clients seek treatment for is anxiety. Even if it is not the primary issue, often it is among a laundry list of things someone would like to change. Anxiety can be very debilitating for some people and it can take on many different forms. Some people are anxious about a specific problem, such as giving a speech or flying. Other people are anxious about illnesses and still others are worried about what people think of them. Anxiety can become so debilitating that a person stops leaving their home or cannot stop counting or checking and therefore cannot hold down a job.

Although anxiety is uncomfortable and in extreme cases can cause interference in daily functioning, how realistic is it for us to hope to eliminate it altogether? Maybe even more importantly, what would happen if we did not have anxiety? What would happen if you were driving to work and you had no fear of a ticket or a car accident? What would keep you from going as fast as your car can go? Once you got to work, if you had no anxiety about money or getting laid off would you work hard? If you had no concern for what others thought about you, would you be thoughtful of their feelings and how you speak to them? What if you had no fear of illnesses? Would you eat foods that do not taste as good to you but are healthy? I bet chocolate would be the first food eaten, not just the dessert. Trans fat? No one would worry about it, right? What kind of parents would we be if there were no concern for how our children do in school or what kind of adults they turn into? As it turns out, anxiety is a healthy, natural human emotion that serves a very important role for us.

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A marriage is coming or maybe a new baby into the family or a move up to a bigger and better job; these are all things that make us happy and give us fulfillment, right? Well, it turns out that any transition can be difficult for people. There are people who are comfortable with change and do not miss a beat when there is a shift in the routine, however, those people are few and far between.

Although it is the norm to experience some challenges during times of transition, we rarely talk about it. It is expected that we handle these times with ease and look forward to the new challenge. Although that may be a part of what someone feels in those situations, there are often other feelings that go along with change as well.

Depression is a very common emotion felt during any normal life transition. It is expected to feel some depression after a death or job loss but after a new marriage? It can take people by surprise. How would you feel if your partner admitted to feeling depressed after marrying you? It is common for people to not understand what they are feeling because they simply do not associate depression with transition that are suppose to be happy.

Depression is not necessarily feeling sad or being unable to get out of bed and function, although those can be part of the symptoms. The most common symptoms of depression are a lack of motivation, a loss of interest in things that one normally enjoys, a feeling of melancholy, and social isolation. I often hear clients say, “I am just not happy and I don’t know why”.

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Generally the first significant life decision we make is college. Although this is an exciting time, it is also an extremely stressful time. It is getting harder and harder to get into college and funding is becoming scarce. When I specialized in adolescents, my practice was frequently full of high school seniors and college freshmen. The seniors are overwhelmed with the prospect of how to make the college decision. Once they get accepted, the sadness of leaving their friends and family settles in. Unfortunately there are more seniors not able to go to college, which can be very difficult on students who worked hard in school expecting to move on to college right after high school. It is common to hear people talk about how wonderful senior year is but I have not seen that very often. I think maybe it is in hindsight that we romanticize senior year but I have seen overwhelming depression from a profound number of seniors.

Then the transition comes and they are in college and there is all the excitement of the newfound freedom, except who is there to hold them to task? How are they going to organize themselves for fun and hard work? There is no routine and everything that was familiar is now gone. Even worse, the depression is often overwhelming for those who are left behind and are not able to go off to college like all of their friends. Frequently those individuals feel like they have failed because they did not reach the goal that all seniors are dreaming of.

I also see people becoming depressed again around senior year of college. What do they do now that they have their degree? How do they seek a job? If they are one of the lucky ones and are able to secure a good job out of college, they now have to figure out how to budget, where to live, how to make friends outside of school, say goodbye to the college friends they have made and again leaving everything that is familiar. It is a big transition that often causes depression in people.

It is important to remember that depression is a treatable condition and no one has to suffer alone and in isolation.

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One of the biggest life transition is from being single or dating to either living with someone or marriage. This can be fun and exciting but there is often anxiety, turmoil and sometimes depression with it as well. While dating, there are no fights about who takes out the trash, who does the dishes, who left shoes out…again. When we move from dating into living with someone, the relationship changes whether we are prepared for it or not.  There are a high percentage of marriages that report symptoms of depression in the first few years. The move from single to couple affects many different aspects of life that sometimes takes people by surprise.

Friends can often be a contentious issue. Single friends may not want to hang out with a couple or perhaps one person in the couple does not like the other’s friends. I have seen early relationships end over challenges with friends. I hear about men not liking their wife/partners best friend or vise versa. Part of the problem may be jealousy or the best friend brings out a side of a person that the partner does not care for.

Then children complicate marriages even further. Generally just when the couple becomes comfortable with married life, a baby throws that routine completely off. It is not uncommon for women to feel some depression during the pregnancy anticipating the change, even though they want the baby very much. After the arrival of the baby, post postpartum is far more common than is reported. I see many women who feel they are suppose to be happy because they have a healthy baby yet they cannot shake the baby blues.

Men also struggle with the baby blues. Their wife is now consumed with the baby and sleep has become a luxury. The focus sifts from the couple to the baby and it is very easy for couples to feel overwhelmed.

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Depression can be very tricky to treat because when someone is depressed doing anything can become overwhelming. Often people do not understand that they are depressed especially during times that are happy or joyful. Sometimes people blame their depression on a physical problem and begin by seeking out medical help rather than psychological help. It is important to accurately identify the issue so it can be treated appropriately. The good news is that past functioning predicts future functioning meaning if someone was happy and well balanced before the depression, they will be able to get there again. That being said, psychological or mental health intervention will allow people to return to their previous emotional state more quickly. Intervention can be done alone, with loved ones or with professionals depending on the symptoms and severity.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is normal to experience depression, to varying degrees, during normal life transitions. It is crucial that if you or a loved one is depressed, do not isolate. Isolation breads depression. Unfortunately the last thing someone wants to do when he or she is depressed is to socialize but it is also the very thing that helps the most. Humans are gregarious animals and as a result, we need human interactions.

Antidepressants are generally not needed for mild or situational depressions but for longer term or more severe depression, they can be very helpful. Short-term therapy is often a good choice of treatment because it helps people understand their emotional reaction is normal and will also help provide coping skills relevant to the individual and the situation.

There are some strategies that people can use without a professional to help cope with depression. Predicting triggers for depression and developing some strategies to fend off depression before hand is often very helpful. That means identifying what may trigger challenging feelings and developing a plan to cope with them. Asking for help and pulling in a support system before a transition is very helpful. It is hard to ask for help but it is important to remember that most people feel very good when a friend asks for help and they are able to provide it. Exercise has been very helpful for most people who struggle with depression. Lastly, planning, making lists and keeping busy help emotions from going to the discomfort of depression. If the depressions persists or worsens, professional help should always be sought.

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Dr. Denman Latest Therapy Blogs

How Normal is Anxiety?
It seems that everywhere we look there is a book, article, or talk show host talking about how to reduce stress and anxiety. One of the most common issues clients seek treatme...
Continue Reading...
Depression and Life Transitions
A marriage is coming or maybe a new baby into the family or a move up to a bigger and better job; these are all things that make us happy and give us fulfillment, right? Well,...
Continue Reading...
The Angst of the College Transition
Generally the first significant life decision we make is college. Although this is an exciting time, it is also an extremely stressful time. It is getting harder and harder to...
Continue Reading...
The Transition from Single to Married
One of the biggest life transition is from being single or dating to either living with someone or marriage. This can be fun and exciting but there is often anxiety, turmoil a...
Continue Reading...
Depression Treatment
Depression can be very tricky to treat because when someone is depressed doing anything can become overwhelming. Often people do not understand that they are depressed especia...
Continue Reading...