Counseling for Depression

As well as therapy for Sadness, Grief, and Dysthmia
In Grand Rapids, MI

Are you or someone you know suffering from depression, overwhelming sadness, grief or dysthymia? Depression is actually one of the most common mental health issues in the United States. Everyone feels sad or melancholic from time to time, but at times in our lives these emotions can actually become debilitating when they reach the form of depression, or prolonged grief, overwhelming sadness, or a “low level of depression that just keeps bothering me” (also known as dysthymia). Therapy and trauma-informed counseling can help you get relief from depression. For some people, certain forms of depression can cause people to feel as if they cannot go to work, school, or even function. Severe forms of depression can cause people to feel suicidal and can even cause negative health outcomes. If you are beginning to experience depression, overwhelming sadness, prolonged grief or dysthymia it is important to get assessed soon and determine if counseling is right for you.
*Note: Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Therapy are interchangeable words describing the same thing.

Counseling for Depression, Sadness, Grief, and Dysthmia at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids​

What is Depression?

Depression can be a completely debilitating condition affecting a person’s mood, personality, physical health, and ability to function. At times, depression can be a temporary state that they are able to navigate. However, if a person is continually experiencing depressive symptoms it may become completely overwhelming to the point where they are unable to function and may even attempt self-harm or suicide. Depression affects divergent age groups and people differently and it can manifest uniquely depending on your situation.

Below is a list of common symptoms: 

  • Mood Issues (low mood, anger, aggression, irritability, unexplained anxiousness, and restless, crying a lot)
  • Emotional Impact (feeling hopeless, sad, empty, anxious, despair, self-blaming)
  • Behavioral Changes ( loss of interest in life, no longer finding meaning in activities that you once loved, extreme fatigue, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, smoking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities)
  • Cognitive Impact (trouble concentrating, difficulties completing tasks, extremely delayed responses during conversations)
  • Sleep Cycle Disruptions (insomnia or cannot sleep, sleeping too much, not sleeping through the night, restless sleep) 
  • Physical Troubles (fatigue, unexplained pains, headaches, digestive issues)
  • Libido Changes (Reduced sexual desire, unable to perform sexually)

How counseling can help you recover from a depressive episode:​

  • Counseling is a process that involves interactions with a therapist in a confidential setting. The therapist utilizes counseling techniques as well as empirically proven techniques to help guide an individual on a path out of their unique version of depression. It is not just “talking” with someone in a room. It is a dynamic experience and it has helped millions of people get back to their lives.
  • Thousands of scientific studies (with actual people suffering from depression) have confirmed that counseling (in general) is effective for treating depression and helping people feel like themselves again. 
  • Many recent studies have shown that EMDR therapy is highly effective at reducing depression in people by targeting the events that inspired the depression with this highly advanced therapy.
  • Research has demonstrated that therapy for depression is at least as effective as antidepressant medications during the treatment period and more effective in preventing a return of the symptoms after the treatment is stopped. This is not to devalue the positive impact of antidepressants; rather, it is to underscore the reliable strength of psychotherapy.
  • In general, most medication research studies compare outcomes of medications to placebos (e.g. sugar pills). As a result of the effectiveness of clients taking sugar pills and reporting large decreases in depression, researchers have determined that at least 75% of the reduction in depressive symptoms when taking an antidepressant is not due to the active ingredients in the medication but rather is based on the (1) client doing something active and (2) having confidence in the helpfulness of the treatment and in the clinician who is prescribing the medication (or placebo). This means that it’s not just the medication that is working, but the individual who is taking the medication and the relationship between that individual and their doctor which is pivotal for recovery. 
  • Studies have consistently found that the majority of individuals prefer counseling over taking medications. However, utilizing the preferred treatment of the individual (regardless of the particular treatment) also seems to produce better results.

What is overwhelming sadness?

Overwhelming sadness may occur in our lives for various reasons. And sometimes, people aren’t even sure why they are experiencing sadness. However, when one is experiencing overwhelming sadness, it is usually seen as different from clinical depression. Oftentimes, people experiencing overwhelming sadness do not notice a change in functioning or many of the symptoms listed in the description of depression. For example, people experiencing depression may not feel “hope”, whereas someone dealing with overwhelming sadness may have hope for the future, but isn’t sure how to navigate their emotions in the present day. If that is the case, participating in psychotherapy may be helpful for someone identifying with overwhelming sadness. 

How therapy can help someone overcome overwhelming sadness:

  • Psychotherapists form a healing relationship with a client and utilize proven techniques to help the person identify triggers and reasons for the sadness, work through the expression of the sadness, processing unknown origins of sadness and more.
  • Counseling has been proven to be highly effective for short and long-term depression and thus, it should be able to help someone experiencing overwhelming sadness because a person with overwhelming sadness understands what they are going through and is not yet fully in a depressive state.
  • Therapy can gently guide someone through the difficulties of overwhelming sadness and help them feel better so that they get back to the things they love to do.

What is grief?

Grief is known as an overwhelming feeling or emotion that all people will experience from time to time in life. Oftentimes, grief stems from the loss of a loved person or pet. But other times, grief can be evoked by the loss of a job, moving away from a familiar place, or growing older and feeling like one has “lost time.” There are many reasons why someone may experience grief, but most of it has to do with “losing something” –some have experienced grief from theft of an item, loss of independence, or loss of an important friend. Yet when people do experience grief they often find themselves feeling numb and removed from their normal life, and they may be so overwhelmed by a sense of loss that they have trouble completing regular life tasks. 

Grief is natural and is often in reaction to an actual or perceived loss. Grief can last for months or even years depending on the circumstance. However, if you seek the help of a counselor to help you move through grief as a natural process, it will help you feel like yourself again more quickly.

How can counseling help someone move through grief so that they feel better:

  • Grieving is a natural process and most therapists are trained to help people move through the stages and emotional ranges of dealing with the complexities of this emotional state.
  • Grief is not easy and even though it is a natural process, many people seek help from a professional to help ease their suffering.
  • There is no shame in asking for help, and as is noted in over 10,000 studies on counseling, more than 79% of clients felt better after just a few sessions of counseling.

What is dysthymia?

Dysthymia is also known as “persistent depressive disorder” and can have long-lasting negative effects on a person’s wellbeing. With dysthymia, the depression is usually less “life-threatening” and thus, some health professionals and members of the general public have, at times, not taken it as seriously. However, dysthymia is certainly an awful condition to be afflicted with. Many of the signatures of Major Depressive Disorder are present, such as feeling hopeless, unable to engage in productive activities, feeling low self-esteem, loss of interest in activities that used to interest you, and feeling inadequate as a person. One of the worst features of dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) is that individuals may actually begin to identify as a “melancholy”  person, whose entire “life narrative” and way of speaking reflects their depressive feelings. Because of this, a person suffering from dysthymia may have difficulties with work/ school, maintaining relationships, daily activities, and more. If you believe that you are suffering from dysthymia, it is important to seek psychotherapy, at the minimum. 

How therapy can help alleviate dysthymia symptoms: 

  • Psychotherapy can definitely help people recover from dysthymia symptoms over time.
  • According to much of the research literature, people with dysthymia may require multiple health interventions to ensure a full recovery (These may include: Counseling, Medication Management, Group Therapy, Supportive Mentorships, Bibliotherapy, and Psychological Education)
  • Recovery from dysthymia often takes a long time, and the symptoms often return. One study found that 70% recovered in an average of about four years, and 50% had a recurrence. Following recovery from dysthymia, the literature suggests that clients continue to engage in counseling and other treatments to prevent a recurrence. 

The Counselors at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids are here to help:

Joshua Nave


EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Trauma, and Minority Groups

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Maxwell Schuiteman


EMDR, Strengths-Based, and Relational Therapy for Adults: Relationships, Men’s Issues, Trauma, etc.

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Gabby Cook


Compassionate, Trauma-Informed Therapist for Adults on their Path of Self-Discovery and Growth

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Caley Weisgerber


Compassionate and Empowering Therapy for Deep Healing

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Michael Egan


Counseling that Empowers and Strengthens You

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Natalie Julien


Trauma Therapy and Counseling for Women and Children

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Paul Krauss – Clinical Director


Counseling, EMDR Therapy, & Solutions

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Lindsey Beaver


Trauma Informed Counseling & EMDR for Children, Teens, Young Adults and Adults

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K’Quiana Griffin-Knowling


EMDR, Empowerment, and Healing for all

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John Curphey


Deep Trauma Healing Work and Somatic Experiencing Therapy

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Melodie Whitmore


Trauma-Informed Counseling and EMDR therapy for Women and Young Adults

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Taylor Mize


Empowering Survivors to Heal and Use Their Voice

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Elif Piromari


Strengths-Based and Trauma-Informed Therapy for Adults, Adolescents, and Children

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Ke0l0l0y B0e0nz0in


Therapy from an Intersectional Systems and Holistic Lens

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Josh Zheng


Empowering Counseling for All, EMDR Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy for all ages.

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Katy Jaramillo


Counseling and Art Therapy for Adults and Teens: Empowerment and Healing from Medical and Neurological Trauma + Existential Concerns

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Kathryn Barcelona


Therapy for adults and families struggling with depression, anxiety, issues, substance use recovery, etc.

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Sarah Denick


Counseling & EMDR Therapy for Individuals, Families, Couples, Teens and Children

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Billie Walters


Intuitive Counseling, EMDR Therapy, and Reiki

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Megan Drizin


Telehealth Counseling for Women, Moms, and Couples

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Nicole Cass


Creative Solutions and Trauma-Informed Counseling for Couples, Adults, Children, and Teens

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Melissa Wade


Strengths-Based, Solution Focused, and Resilience Therapies for Families, Children, Teens, and Individuals

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Kori Crask, LMSW


Trauma-Informed Counseling and EMDR Therapy for long-term healing

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Kay Foster


Inclusive therapy, trauma-informed counseling, and sex-related concerns.

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Brittani Decess


Counseling through a trauma-informed, inclusive, and equitable lens for individuals, relationships, and families.

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Shanna Beebe


A non-judgemental space for deep healing from trauma, abuse, and relationship wounds.

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Brendan Cole


Counseling and EMDR for Adolescents, Teens and Adults

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Jennifer McKinstry


Counseling and EMDR Therapy for Trauma, Depression, Anxiety, and Spiritual Issues

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Margie Muñoz


Trauma Informed Counseling, Mindfulness-Based, and EMDR Therapy for Children, Teens, and Adults

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Learn more about the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids

Learn more about Counseling and Therapy services at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids


Ali, N. S., Ali, B. S., Azam, I. S., & Khuwaja, A. K. (2010, July 19). Effectiveness of counseling for anxiety and depression in mothers of children ages 0-30 months by community workers in Karachi, Pakistan: a quasi-experimental study. BMC Psychiatry.

Carta, M., Petretto, D., Adamo, S., Bhat, K., Lecca, M., Mura, G., Carta, V., Angermeyer, M., & Moro, M. (2012). Counseling in primary care improves depression and quality of life. Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health : CP & EMH.

Gauhar, Y. W. M. (2016, January 1). The Efficacy of EMDR in the Treatment of Depression. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research.

Karlsson, H. How Psychotherapy changes the Brain. Psychiatric Times. 2011.

Linde, K., Sigterman, K., Kriston, L., Rücker, G., Jamil, S., Meissner, K., & Schneider, A. (2015). Effectiveness of psychological treatments for depressive disorders in primary care: systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of family medicine.

Team, G. T. E. (2019, May 11). Four Tasks of Mourning. Grief Counseling: The Grief Process, Models of Grief, and Grief Therapy.

Thase ME, Howland RH. Assessment and treatment of chronic depression. Clin Advan Treat Psychiatric Disorder. 1995;9:1–11.

Westra Department of Psychology, Westra, D., & Psychology, D. of. (2020, February 18). The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: What the Research Tells Us. Find a Psychologist.

Wiswede D, et al. 2014. Tracking Functional Brain Changes in Patients with Depression under Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Using Individualized Stimuli. PLoS ONE. 2014.

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