Depression (mood)

What Is Depression?

Depression is a state of a lowered mood and distaste that can affect a person’s emotions, thoughts, feelings, energy levels, and state of wellbeing. While everyone experiences a depressed mood from time to time, it can also be an indication of an underlying mental disorder.

What Causes Depression?

Depression can happen to anyone at any time. A person may feel a depressed mood for a number of different reasons such as divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, and more. It is a very normal temporary reaction to many of life’s stressful circumstances.

Depression is also a common side-effect of withdrawal from drug and/or alcohol addiction. It can also be a side-effect from a medication a person is taking.

Depression is also a symptom of underlying mood disorders such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. A person can also have a genetic predisposition for depression, especially when other family members experience depression.

Early childhood trauma including emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse can also cause depression in adolescence and as a person gets older. In such instances, depression is typically caused by changes that take place in the brain due to the trauma experienced.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

There are several symptoms associated with depression. Symptoms will vary amongst each individual including the severity and how long they last. Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Void of emotion
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Loss of interest in activities a person once enjoyed
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping a lot or very little)
  • Changes in appetite (can trigger weight loss or weight gain)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling lethargic or less energetic

Treatment for Depression

In many cases, depression will go away on its own. When it is persistent or recurring however, a person may seek treatment to help them overcome the symptoms associated with it. When left untreated, depression can cause numerous problems in a person’s life including relationship problems, difficulties at work or school, as well as several health problems.

Common treatment for depression includes medication and psychotherapy. They can be used alone or in conjunction with one another. Lifestyle changes may also be recommended for a person suffering from depression. The treatment a person receives depends on the cause of their depression, as well as the severity of their symptoms.

Psychotherapy: Talking to a therapist or counsellor is a common treatment for people with depression. There are several types of therapy that can help with depression including: talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and more. Many times, therapists will use a combination of different types of psychotherapy when treating depression.

Medication: Medication has also shown to help people who struggle with depression. While medication does help, it should be noted that it only helps control the symptoms of depression, and not the underlying cause. It should not be considered a long-term solution for feeling of depression. There are several anti-depressants that can be used to treat depression. While they do help a person manage their symptoms, there are often unpleasant side-effects and they can cause withdrawal symptoms when a person discontinues using them.

Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes can be a significant way to help a person overcome depression. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise are key in managing depression. Learning various methods of stress reduction and relaxation techniques can also help. Maintaining strong social bonds and avoiding isolation can benefit those with depression.

Frequently Asked Questions about Depression

When depression is considered normal and when is it considered a problem?

Everyone feels depressed from time to time. Most often, these feelings are temporary and will go away on their own after having a bad day or two. Depression is considered a more serious problem when a person experiences symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks.

Is depression a sign of weakness?

No. Everyone experiences depression. It is a normal human reaction to many events that occur in life. There is sometimes a social stigma attached to depression that indicates a sign of weakness or moral failure. Depression however, is very common and does not pertain to a person being weak.

What should someone do if they think they are depressed?

In cases where depression does not go away after a couple weeks, it is important to make an appointment to visit a primary care doctor. They will review the signs and symptoms of the patient in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment options such as psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes will be discussed.

External Links

Frequently Asked Questions about Depression, John M. Grohol, Psy.D., Psych Central

Warning Signs & Types of Depression, John M. Grohol, Psy.D., Psych Central

Depression, Mental Health Foundation

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