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Depression Diagnosis & Treatment
in the North Shore, Massachusetts

Struggling with a constant feeling of sadness or emptiness? No longer finding joy in your favorite activities? Feeling unusually tired and low on energy? These may be signs of depression.

We can support you with both medical and non-pharmacological treatments.

Diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression

How to get diagnosed with major depressive disorder? Recognizing your symptoms is a crucial first step. But remember, only a mental health professional can give you an accurate diagnosis. Read what you can expect.

Psychological Evaluation

We discuss your symptoms, health history, family background, and events impacting your life. This is a deep but necessary conversation to understand what you are going through.

Oligoscan Test

We use an advanced spectrophotometer device, Oligoscan, to check the minerals and heavy metals in your body. This test is quick and noninvasive, and it tells you a lot about what is happening inside your muscles and capillaries.

Physical Exam and Blood Work

Other medical conditions can sometimes masquerade as depression, so we check your overall health.

Creyos Assessment

Creyos is a computer-based cognitive test that helps you understand how your brain is working.

Your provider then compares your symptoms to those in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). If they match, we start talking about a diagnosis.

 

Every step here is about understanding you better and ruling out any other conditions that might be causing your symptoms. Remember, you are taking an important step towards feeling better. We help you through it.

How Depression Feels. Symptoms and Signs of Depression

Wondering if what you are feeling might be depression? The DSM-5 defines major depressive disorder with specific signs and symptoms. Let's break them down:

Depressed mood. More than just feeling sad. It is a deep, persistent gloom that feels like a heavy cloud. People often call it feeling "down," "blue," or "miserable."

Loss of interest and pleasure. Things you once loved do not excite you anymore. Your hobbies and interests are drained of color.

Weight change. Significant weight loss or gain without dieting. There is just something wrong with your appetite.

Sleep issues. Struggling to sleep? Or maybe sleeping too much? Both are common in depression.

Restlessness or sluggishness. Feeling on edge and unable to relax, or the opposite – like you are moving through molasses, physically and mentally.

Fatigue. This is not ordinary tiredness. It is an overwhelming lack of energy that does not go away with rest.


Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. Harsh self-criticism or feeling guilty over things that are not your fault.

Difficulty concentrating. Decision-making and focus become challenging tasks.

Thoughts of death or suicide. More than just fear of death, these are recurring thoughts of wanting to die, considering suicide, or even planning to commit one.

If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or more, including a depressed mood or loss of interest that are serious enough to disrupt your daily life and are not caused by any other medical condition, talk to a professional.

What Causes Depression

Where does depression come from and why does it hit some people harder than others? It is usually a mix of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Let's explore them:

Genetic influence. If depression runs in your family, you might be more prone to it. Genetics can play a big part.

Brain chemistry imbalance. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine affect your mood. When they are out of balance, depression can creep in.

Hormonal changes. Pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, or thyroid problems can cause mood swings and depressive episodes.

Brain structure and function. How your brain is structured or functions can be a factor.

Personality traits. Traits like neuroticism or low self-esteem can make you more vulnerable to depression.

Traumatic experiences. Abuse, neglect, loss – these painful experiences can lead to depression.

Environmental stressors. Chronic stress from work, relationships, financial troubles, or major life changes can trigger depression or make it worse.

Lack of social support. Feeling alone or unsupported can deepen depressive feelings.

Other factors. Chronic illness, substance abuse, certain medications, and alcoholism can all play a role.

Causes of depression are complex and varied. When you understand the factors behind it, you see the bigger picture and understand what treatments can help you.

Seasonal Depression in Massachusetts

Symptoms of seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), typically occur in the late fall or early winter. Evidence suggests that SAD is linked to changes in light exposure and circadian rhythms, so you may usually experience it around the middle of November after daylight savings time ends. 

People in the north of the United States have a higher risk than people in the south. Winters in Massachusetts are short, and there is a lot of cloud cover, so seasonal depressions are more common.

If you suspect you have SAD, you should get professional help for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

How to Cope With Depression

The journey through depression is not easy, but you can make it smoother. Here is how:

Medication and therapy. Antidepressants can help relieve depression symptoms, but they are not the whole story. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT) are great at tackling those negative thought patterns.

Self-care. Good sleep, balanced eating, regular physical activity, and managing stress are all key to feeling better.

Social connection. Stay connected. Talking and spending time with people you like can lift your spirits.

Mindfulness and relaxation. Try mindfulness meditation or deep breathing. They can calm your mind and reduce stress.

Routine and moderation. A daily routine helps. Avoid too much alcohol or substances. They can mess with your mood.

Appreciating small things. Focus on the here and now. Enjoying little moments can make a big difference and reduce stress too.

If you are looking for a plan that is just for you, professional help is the way to go.

How We Can Support You

Our psychiatric nurse practitioners and life coaches offer people with depression personalized plans, including medication management, psychoeducation, and evidence-based non-pharmacological treatments.

At Alta MH, we see you as a whole person, not just your symptoms. Our goal is to help you improve your mental health in a meaningful way – guiding and supporting you in changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions for lasting improvements and a happier, brighter future.

Alta Team. Five women sitting on a couch, all wearing purple t-shirts, and looking at the viewer

How You Can Pay

Accepted Insurances

Self-Pay Rates

  • Medicare 

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield 

  • United Healthcare 

  • Always / Mass General Brigham Health Plan 

  • Harvard Pilgrim 

  • Cigna 

  • Aetna 

No-show or late cancellation (under 24 hours) fee: $50.

Medication Clinic:

  • Initial intake – $250

  • Follow-up – $175


Outpatient Therapy: ​

  • Family – $225

  • Parenting coaching – $150 (individual)

  • Parenting coaching – $200 (couple)

  • Group Therapy – $100 per person

Individual Therapy:

  • 30 Minute – $70

  • 45 Minute – $100

  • 60 Minute – $130

Key Questions on Depression

Who is affected by depression (Major Depressive Disorder)?

America’s Health Ranking shows that depression impacts different groups differently:

  • Women are more likely to experience depression than men.

  • Adults aged 18–44 are more affected than those 45 and older.

  • Multiracial and American Indian/Alaska Native adults face higher rates than Asian adults.

  • Those with below college level education are at greater risk.

  • Adults earning less than $25,000 annually are more susceptible.

  • Higher depression rates are found in non-metropolitan areas compared to metropolitan areas.

Will depression go away?

Depression is treatable. Many find relief and recover with proper treatment. Yet, its course varies from person to person. For some, it is a one-time or short-term issue. For others, it can be recurrent or chronic.

Can depression be treated without medication?

Yes. Treatments like psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can effectively address depression without medication.

Am I depressed or just lazy?

Distinguishing between depression and laziness can be tough, as depression affects motivation and energy. If you are unsure, it is important to evaluate your overall well-being with a mental health expert. Book a consultation here.

Are depression and ADHD linked?

Depression and ADHD are separate conditions, but there is some overlap in symptoms. They can also co-occur but this does not mean one causes the other.

 

If symptoms of either or both are present, consulting a mental health professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment is advised.

How does depression affect relationships?

Depression can strain relationships, leading to communication problems, emotional distance, and decreased interest. It often brings irritability and conflict, impacting the relationship's health. Treating depression can help mend these issues and improve relationship dynamics.

Request Your First Consultation Today

Start here for better mental health. Book a consultation today and take steps to a happier, healthier you.

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