What is depression?

Most people experience feelings of sadness, particularly when they are going through a difficult time in their lives or when experiencing the loss of a loved one. However, these sad feelings can sometimes turn into depression when the feelings continue for an extended period of time, when they begin to interfere in a person's functioning (either at work, school, or home), or when they are accompanied by feelings of hopelessness or despair.

How do I know if I am depressed?

What separates normal feelings of sadness from depression is when the person begins to experience the following symptoms nearly every day for an extended period of time (according to the diagnostic manual):

  • Depressed mood most of the day
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain, or change in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or the need for an increased amount of sleep
  • Feeling fatigued or having little energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide 

Depression can look different in everyone and no two depressed people look or feel the same. Depression is a very common condition, although it is one that often goes untreated. People tend to experience a sense of shame or guilt about their depressed feelings or do not want to talk about how they feel. Depression that is left untreated can often times become worse and may lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Is there treatment for depression?

The good news is that depression is a very treatable condition. One of the most common treatments for depression is therapy. All therapists work differently and have their own approach. What clients can expect in therapy with me is to spend some time talking about your background and history, identify problematic areas as well as identify areas of strength, identify negative patterns or recurrent themes, and discover different tools you can use to make real and lasting changes in your life. You do not need to continue to feel the way you are feeling. I have helped many people work through their depression and transform the way they feel, think, and behave.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion that almost all people experience from time to time. People may report experiencing feelings of anxiety when they engage in public speaking, before giving a presentation at work, or when they are worried about the outcome of a certain event. However, when people experience prolonged periods of worry or fear, or when the worry begins to interfere in someone's functioning (at work, home, or school), the person may have an anxiety disorder.

How do I know if I have an anxiety disorder?

There are different types of anxiety disorders. Some anxiety disorders involve specific phobias (for example excessive fear of flying on an airplane or driving in a car), while other anxiety disorders include panic attacks (the abrupt onset of pounding heart, trembling, feelings of choking, etc.). A common anxiety disorder is Generalized Anxiety Disorder which typically involves someone experiencing excessive worry for a prolonged period of time and is associated with symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, irritability, or sleep disturbance. When a person's anxiety begins to interfere in their daily functioning, it may be time to seek help.

Is there treatment for anxiety disorders?

Similar to depression, anxiety is a condition that can be treated with therapy. What clients can expect in treatment with me for anxiety disorders is to identify areas of excessive worry or concern, discuss the thoughts that are associated with these targeted areas, work on changing or stopping unrealistic thoughts or thoughts that lead to excessive anxiety and replace these negative thoughts with more functional healthier thoughts, and talk through different coping strategies or behavior changes that can be done to decrease excessive anxiety. Your anxiety can be managed and does not have to stop you from living the life you deserve. I can help you take better control of your anxiety and you can change the way that you feel.


222 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Lake Forest, IL 60045
(815) 793-3787 - allison@interchangepsychology.com
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