Blog Post Thursday

How To Know If You’re Depressed

We all go through periods of feeling down, sad, and unmotivated. But how do you know if you’re depressed or just going through a normal mood? Let’s talk about it. Here are 5 signs that may indicate you are experiencing depression:

How to know if you’re depressed?

According to the World Health Organization approximately 280 million people in the world have depression. Here are 5 signs you are depressed:

1. Low Mood:

When people are depressed, they often undergo a noticeable change in their mood. You may find that friends and family start to express concern, asking if you’re okay. They might even mention that you haven’t been quite yourself lately. If you’ve been grappling with persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability, it’s possible that you are dealing with depression.

2. Decreased Interest or Pleasure:

Depression frequently leads to a loss of interest in activities that were once a source of joy. If you find yourself no longer enthusiastic about your usual hobbies or are consistently turning down activities you would typically enjoy, it might be a sign of depression.

3. Sleep Changes:

When a person experiences depression there is often a noticeable change in their sleeping pattern. Sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep are a sign of depression. If you have been experiencing the previous signs of depression and notice your sleep pattern being disrupted you could be depressed.

4. Low Energy:

Depression can drain a person’s energy levels, making even basic daily tasks seem challenging. Something as routine as taking a shower or eating a meal can become difficult. If you’re finding it hard to muster the energy for normal activities, this could be a sign of depression.

5. Trouble Thinking Clearly

People who are depressed often experience difficulties with cognitive tasks. A decrease in their ability to think clearly and concentrate can make decision-making more complex. If you’ve been struggling with a foggy or distracted mind, it could be indicative of depression symptoms.

Depression takes a profound toll on a person, affecting them physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you resonate with these signs and suspect you may be depressed, it’s crucial to reach out for support and professional guidance to help you through this challenging period. Depression is a treatable condition, and seeking help is a significant step toward healing and recovery.

The professionals at Blue Elephant Counseling understand the profound challenges that come with struggling with depression, and they are here to provide a compassionate and supportive hand to guide you through this difficult journey. With a wealth of experience and expertise in mental health, they offer a safe and non-judgmental space for you to express your feelings and concerns. Through evidence-based therapeutic approaches, they can help you identify the underlying causes of your depression, develop coping strategies, and work towards a brighter, more emotionally balanced future. Through individual therapy and a tailored treatment plan, the team at Blue Elephant Counseling is dedicated to assisting you in your path to recovery and emotional well-being. You don’t have to face depression alone, and their caring professionals are ready to provide the guidance and support you need.

smiling woman holding orange sun hat
Blog Post Thursday

Embracing Change in October: A Journey of Personal Growth

As October unfolds, nature’s transformation is a vivid reminder that change is an intrinsic part of life. Let’s delve into the theme of embracing change and personal growth, inspired by the enchanting tapestry of October.

The Changing Seasons

October’s arrival brings forth a symphony of autumnal colors. Leaves transition from vibrant green to hues of red, orange, and gold before gracefully descending to the earth. This change mirrors the natural rhythm of life, urging us to let go of what no longer serves us and make room for new experiences and opportunities.

Personal Growth

In the face of changing landscapes, we can draw inspiration for our own personal growth. Much like trees that shed their leaves to prepare for winter, we too must shed old habits, negative thought patterns, or fears that hinder our progress. October encourages us to adapt and evolve, fostering our personal transformation.

Setting Goals

October marks the transition from the year’s midpoint to its final quarter. It’s an ideal time to revisit and reevaluate the goals and resolutions set earlier in the year. Reflect on your progress, celebrate your achievements, and adjust your goals if needed. Much like the changing leaves, this season reminds us that it’s never too late to make positive changes in life.

Practicing Mindfulness

The enchantment of October inspires us to live in the present moment. Take a break from life’s hustle and bustle. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of this wonderful season. The practice of mindfulness, akin to admiring the autumn landscape, helps you remain grounded and appreciative of the here and now.

Building Resilience

Just as nature’s resilience allows it to endure the changing seasons, we too can build resilience to navigate life’s uncertainties. Embracing change may be challenging, but it offers growth opportunities. By developing resilience, we can bounce back from setbacks, adapt to new situations, and thrive in the face of change.

Embrace the change and personal growth opportunities presented by October. Discover that change is not to be feared but celebrated. This month encourages us to release the old, set new goals, practice mindfulness, and build resilience. The colors of October remind us of the beauty in change, and in the evolving chapters of our lives. Whether you’re sipping pumpkin spice lattes, strolling through falling leaves, or simply reflecting, October invites you to embrace the journey of change and personal growth.

As October’s vibrant change inspires your personal growth journey, remember that you don’t have to navigate it alone. If you’re seeking guidance and support to embrace change and build resilience, consider signing up for digital coaching or online counseling at Blue Elephant Counseling. Your path to a more fulfilling life begins with a single click.


8 Signs of High Functioning Depression

High functioning depression, also known as persistent depressive disorder, and previously called dysthymia, is a form of depression that can be difficult to detect because the symptoms may not be as obvious as those of major depression.

For depression to be considered persistent you have to have been experiencing your symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least 2 years if you are an adult and for at least 1 full year if you are a child.

So let’s get into the 8 signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing high functioning depression.

Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness — we all experience these things at one time or another but a consistent, ongoing, and hard to shake feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness could be a sign you have persistent depressive disorder.

Loss of interest in activities that used to bring pleasure — when a person experiences ongoing depression they tend to eliminate the fun and social activities from their schedules. When you struggle to function in your day to day life just getting up and going to work or school can be draining, leaving little to no interest for socializing or doing really anything you don’t have to.

Decreased energy and difficulty with motivation — functioning with depression is draining. If you have difficulty motivating yourself or coming up with the energy to do things you may be experiencing depression. And when this struggle lasts for a long time, you might be struggling with persistent depression.

Changes in sleep patterns or appetite — Eating and sleeping are everyday occurrences and vary from person to person. When considering this symptom for yourself it’s important to think about it as a CHANGE from previous functioning rather than in a numeric measurement. Increase or decreased sleep and appetite can be a symptoms of many issues unrelated to mental health so consider the situation and the length of time you have noticed the changes. When a person struggles with ongoing depression the increased or decreased use of sleep and food is acting as a coping strategy. If you notice a significant or ongoing change in sleep or eating patterns you may be suffering from persistent depression.

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions — making decisions and concentration require a large amount of mental energy. These skills are diminished when a person is struggling with ongoing depression.

Self-critical thoughts or feelings of worthlessness — negative self talk has a huge impact on our emotional health. When a person is struggling with persistent depression their ability to challenge their thinking and talk positively to themself is diminished.

Physical symptoms such as headaches or digestive problems — We call these somatic symptoms. It’s when a person is struggling with their depression so much that they have physical illness type responses. If you notice recurring stomach aches or headaches over a two year period it may be caused by persistent depression.

Difficulty managing daily responsibilities and tasks — High functioning Depression is still depression. Over time, without treatment, the person will experience a progressive decrease in their daily life functioning. Missing appointment or deadlines, missing kids special events, forgetting to pay bills, dishes and laundry piling up, and an overall struggle to manage daily life.

It’s important to note that everyone experiences these symptoms differently, and it’s possible to experience high functioning depression without experiencing all of the symptoms discussed today. If you’re concerned that you or someone you know may be experiencing high functioning depression, it’s a good idea to speak with a mental health professional for an assessment.

Persistent depression is treatable and often with interventions as simple as talk therapy. There are medications that can help and I know not everyone is a fan of medication treatments. But know that there are options available and talk to your doctor if you are struggling. You can also seek counseling from a mental health provider such as myself.

Leave a comment if there is a mental health topic you would like more information about. Bye!


3 Ways to Battle the Winter Blues

Katie Donahoo

As the seasons change, so too do our moods and mental health. For many of us, the transition from summer to fall and winter can bring about feelings of sadness and anxiety. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is linked to the change in seasons. It is estimated that up to 10 million Americans suffer from SAD, with symptoms typically appearing in the late fall and lasting through the winter months.

But SAD is not the only way in which the changing seasons can impact our mental health. The shorter days and longer nights of fall and winter can lead to a decrease in overall energy and motivation. The transition from warm, sunny summer days to colder, darker winter days can also lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, as we may be less likely to engage in outdoor activities or social gatherings.

So, what can we do to mitigate the negative effects of the changing seasons on our mental health? Here are a few tips:

  1. Practice self-care

Self-care is a vital component of maintaining good mental health, and it is especially important during the winter months when we may feel extra drained and sluggish. Make sure to prioritize activities that nourish and support your body and mind, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. Additionally, consider incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, into your daily routine.

  1. Seek out natural light

Exposure to natural light is important for regulating our body’s internal clock, which can help boost our mood and energy levels. Make an effort to spend time outside each day, even if it’s just a short walk or sitting in a park. If it’s too cold or gloomy outside, consider using a light therapy lamp or simply spending more time near windows to get some natural light.

  1. Stay connected

The shorter days and longer nights of fall and winter can make us feel isolated and disconnected from others. Make an effort to stay connected to your loved ones and engage in social activities, whether it’s a phone call, video chat, or in-person gathering. This can help combat feelings of loneliness and help you feel more supported during the winter months.

  1. Seek help if needed

If you’re struggling to cope with the negative effects of the changing seasons on your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek help. This may include speaking with a therapist or counselor, joining a support group, or consulting with a healthcare professional. It’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and that you don’t have to face these challenges alone.

In addition to SAD, the changing seasons can also impact other mental health conditions. For example, some people with anxiety or depression may find that their symptoms worsen during the winter months. This may be due to the added stressors of the holiday season, or simply the lack of light and warmth. If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, it’s important to monitor your symptoms and seek help if necessary.

But the changing seasons don’t just impact our mental health in negative ways. In fact, the arrival of spring and summer can bring about a sense of renewal and rejuvenation. The longer days and warmer weather can boost our mood and energy levels, and the increased opportunities for outdoor activities and social gatherings can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.

It’s important to recognize that the changing seasons can have a significant impact on our mental health, and to take steps to mitigate any negative effects. Whether it’s practicing self-care, seeking out natural light, or staying connected to loved ones. If you struggle with SAD or increased depression in the winter months please seek professional help.

Coping skills

4 Tips for Reducing Anxiety & Depression 

Katie Donahoo

Photo by Nathan Cowley on

Anxious and depressed symptoms are common throughout the lifespan. Everyone has felt stressed out, overwhelmed, sad, and lethargic. Individually these symptoms are often manageable with a few coping strategies. Here are a few tips to keep your symptoms of anxiety and depression under control. 

  1. Sleep and Wake Cycle – Maintaining a healthy sleep and wake cycle can make the world of difference. It’s common knowledge that sleep can be one of the most impactful health benefits not only for physical well being but for your emotional well being too. When you stick to a healthy sleep and wake cycle your body will be at it’s best. To do this try to wake up and lie down at the same time each day. After a while your body’s natural rhythm will adapt and you will find yourself getting tired just before you bedtime. You will likely also notice yourself waking up around the same time daily feeling more refreshed and energized than when you stay up late and sleep in. If you keep your sleep and wake cycle similar on days off you will have more success staying on the cycle than if you allow yourself to stay up several hours later thinking you will just sleep in the next day. 
  2. Look Good Feel Good – It’s easy to skip taking a shower or doing your makeup when you are feeling down. But if you are trying to fend off a depression then taking the time to get ready in the morning can make a big difference. When we feel clean, attractive, and put together we have more energy and our self esteem is lifted. When we think we look good we feel better about ourself and our interactions in the world. When we feel good it’s easier to have a positive outlook on the day. I’m not the kind of person to put too much emphasis on my looks, but I know that when I’m starting to feel down about myself or my life putting effort into these areas will impact my emotional state so I do it. Take a moment a think about the last time you really put effort into your morning routine. Wearing your favorite outfit, looking in the mirror ad liking what you saw, the pep in your step as you headed off for the day. When we look good we feel good; so put on your favorite outfit and notice the difference it makes. 
  3. Touch Base – Humans are story telling creatures. We talk to others to express all kinds of emotions. Think about the last time you had great news, you probably told everyone you know and their mother. It feels good to talk about what is going on in our lives and it’s your brains way of helping to process information. If you are feeling anxious or depressed challenge yourself to touch base with a friend, loved one, sibling, or co-worker. Simply stating what is going on with you can alleviate some of your feelings. Often acknowledging our emotions diminishes their impact. You may not be able to solve whatever problems you may be having in life, but like Mr. Roger’s said “If it’s mentionable it’s manageable. So get out there and start mentioning your feelings. 
  4. Go Outside – Step out of your house, apartment, trailer, whatever and get into nature. You don’t have to go for a woodland hike or a stroll on the beach to get in touch with nature. Sit on your porch, stoop, curb, etc and take a few deep breaths. Nature is where we belong. Take off your shoes and walk in your grass, pick up some leaves or run your hand over a bush. Spending time outdoors can help you regulate your emotional state. If you have a beautiful, nature filled area great! If you live in a more urban area don’t worry about it. Breath in the fresh air, look up at the sky, feel your feet planted to the earth. Reconnect with the world around you and you will notice a change in yourself. 

These tips are not intended to replace counseling or medications you may be taking. Adding these routines and tips to your day to life will not fully treat anxiety or depression. Tips to reduce anxiety and depression come in all forms. If you are suffering with contact anxiety or depression please seek professional help. Healing is possible, help is available.