Depression Counselor Careers

Lonely sad woman deep in thoughts. Portrait of a thinking womanWhat Is Depression Counseling?

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. Millions of Americans are diagnosed with depression each year. However, the actual number of individuals with depression is most likely higher than we realize, since many cases of depression go unannounced.

One of the main symptoms of depression is a general feeling of sadness, but there are also other symptoms as well. These symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Changes in eating habits, which can also result in either weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

A mental illness such as depression can be very difficult to get over. Unlike what some may believe, most people can't just "snap out of it" or "cheer up". There is so much more to depression recovery than this, and this recovery can take weeks, months, or even years. In most cases, professional help is needed to get over depression.

Depression counseling is usually needed in order to recover from depression. This type of counseling is often very effective, especially when combined with medication. Professionals in this field are typically prepared to treat all different types of depression.

  • Clinical Depression: Also known as major depressive disorder, clinical depression is one of the most common types of depression. It is characterized by symptoms of depression that last for two weeks or more.
  • Manic Depression: Mani depression is also sometimes referred to as bipolar disorder. Individuals suffering from this mood disorder often experience periods of depression, followed by "manic" or elated moods.
  • Chronic Depression: Chronic depression is a type of long term depression. Symptoms of depression typically last for two years or more in individuals suffering from chronic depression.
  • Postpartum Depression: After giving birth, many women will often battle bouts of postpartum depression. Symptoms of this type of depression can last anywhere from a few days to several months, and it can interfere with the bonding process between mother and child.
  • Seasonal Depression: Another very common type of depression is seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression begins to affect people in the early winter months and ends in the spring. However, it is much worse than the typical "winter blues" that most people experience.
  • Situational Depression: Situational depression occurs when stressful life events cause a depressed mood and symptoms of depression.

Counseling individuals with different types of depression often takes a very special person with certain traits and qualities. Depression counselors should be accepting and non-judgmental, for instance. They should also be excellent listeners with a genuine interest in helping people.

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How Do I Become a Depression Counselor?

To become a depression counselor you will need to go through a rather rigorous amount of schooling. This includes obtaining a Bachelor's Degree, then a Master's Degree, and finally entering into a Doctorate or PhD program. If you are serious about entering into this field of study, request information from programs available for you here.

Why Do We Need Depression Counseling?

True depression is much more serious than a simple case of the blues. Depression can have a crippling effect on a person's life, and it can also be very dangerous and life threatening. Many people suffering from severe depression will contemplate taking their own lives at one point or another. Some of those people will actually attempt to commit suicide, and others might even be successful.

Depression counseling is necessary in order to treat this debilitating disorder. Individuals who seek this sort of counseling are much more likely to learn to deal with their problems using healthy methods, which will usually lead to a happier, more satisfying life. It can even be said that depression counseling can save lives.

What Does a Depression Counselor Do?

Since depression does not discriminate, as a depression counselor, you will work with all sorts of different people. This includes people of all different races, ages, and socioeconomic statuses. Some depression counselors, however, might choose to work only with certain demographics or treat only certain types of depression.

If a patient has not already been diagnosed with depression, a depression counselor will typically need to assess and diagnose him. In order to do this, a depression counselor will usually interview the patient and require him to fill out a questionnaire. The answers to the interview and questionnaire inquiries can then be used to determine the type and severity of depression.

Once a depression counselor better understands his patient's situation, he can then begin to work toward treating him. Several types of treatment methods might be used to help patients pull out of a depressed state. Usually, however, depression counselors will used treatment methods such as psychotherapy, talk therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Using these counseling methods, a depression counselor can help his patients get a better understanding of their conditions. They might also offer guidance on how to cope with or deal with life's challenges.

In some cases, simple therapy or counseling might be enough to treat depression. In cases of severe depression, a depression counselor may be required to refer his patients to psychiatrists or psychiatric hospitals.

Where Do Depression Counselors Work?

Depression counselors work in all sorts of different medical facilities. They might work in hospitals or mental health facilities, for instance. Depression counselors might also work for non-profit organizations, schools, rehabilitation centers, and crisis hotline centers as well.

Many depression counselors also choose to open their own private practices as well.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Depression Counselor?

 Counseling Educational Track
Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
Undergraduate Work Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling 4 Years Online or Campus
Graduate Work Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling 5-6 Years Online or Campus
PHD or Doctoral Work Earn a Doctorate in Counseling  7-8 Years Online or Campus

In general, most individuals start their depression counseling careers with a bachelor's degree in either psychology or counseling. Graduate degrees, however, are usually needed in order to practice. Many schools offer Master’s and doctoral degree programs in general counseling, counseling psychology, or depression counseling. Internships are also usually required in order to complete these degree programs.

Some of these internships may even count toward the 3,000 hours of supervised work experience that many individuals may need to become licensed counselors. This can vary from state to state, however.

What Is the Annual Average Salary for a Depression Counselor?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, depression counselors count as mental health counselors. Depression counselors, as of May of 2014, earned an annual average salary of $43,990 with the top 10 percent of the profession earning more than $65,000 per year on average. There are a number of factors that might influence a depression counselor's salary, such as experience, education, and location. For example, depression counselors in California earned a average salary of $46,290 in 2014, which is slightly higher than the national average.