Emotional Health Header

Depression goes much deeper than a passing blue mood, and people with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or even years. However, there is hope and help for people who suffer from depression…

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself and the way one thinks about things. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.

Below is a checklist of 10 symptoms of clinical depression. If you or your patient experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with a daily routine, referral for mental health treatment is advised.

  • Thoughts of death or suicide (require immediate mental health intervention)
  • A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless

Outpatient psychotherapy, partial hospitalization (short-term mental health treatment five-days-a- week) and psychiatric medication management are all available right here at St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network

To read more about Depression, click here.

For more information, or to make a referral, please call:

Innovations Partial Hospitalization Program at 1107 Eaton Avenue, Bethlehem, PA

Blue Mountain Partial Program at 512 Bank Street, Bowmanstown, PA

Behavioral Health Intake at 257 Brodhead Road, Bethlehem, PA (psychiatric evaluation or outpatient counseling)

The darkest months of the year are upon us. Many of us will find it noticeably more difficult to carry out our activities of daily living over the winter months. Our daily rhythms are driven by biological functions called Circadian rhythms. Research suggests that seasonal or winter depression is often a result of an imbalance between your body’s circadian rhythms and rhythms of the environment! Secretions of the hormone melatonin appear to be particularly important in winter depression. This hormone, nicknamed the “Dracula” hormone, is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland when our surroundings are dark, but not when they are light. Most people are able to adjust to these internal changes. For those who struggle with mood changes in the winter, however, the results can feel crushing.

Here are some tips for coping with winter or seasonal depression:

  • Get a thorough physical examination and level with your doctor
  • Light therapy/phototherapy (exposure to extra amounts of synthetic light throughout the winter; need several hours of exposure to light 5x brighter than a well-lit office daily (talk to your doctor about how to order a phototherapy box)
  • Talk to your doctor about altering melatonin levels during the day
  • Avoid alcohol. Completely. (Yes, you.)
  • Learn about your vulnerabilities and develop ways to manage them
  • Strive to exercise regularly
  • Do fun things and do them often
  • Get and stay connected to others
  • Learn to relax
  • Be goal-oriented in important areas
  • Prioritize and problem-solve
  • Get support, get help. Don’t wait!

Things NOT to do when you’re depressed

  • Don’t dwell on the past and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your daddy was.” (A. Lincoln)
  • Don’t catastrophize-understand probability
  • Don’t leave things unsaid or unresolved
  • Don’t leave time unstructured
  • To schedule an appointment with a psychotherapist at St. Luke’s University Health Network call 484-822-5700