1. What is Depression?
Depression is the most common mental health problem. Sometimes people assume that the mere sense of sadness means that they are depressed, but while clinical depression does include feelings of sadness, it also includes additional symptoms which altogether make it harder to function normally on everyday basis.
Difficult life circumstances (e.g. the loss of a loved one or unemployment) could lead to depressive symptoms. Sometimes, depressive symptoms gradually take root in a person’s life and are the combined result of multiple negative factors. Regardless of whether depression is developed in response to a single negative life event or multiple ones, genetics and biological factors may also play an important role in the development of depression.
3. Signs and Symptoms
Depression influences people’s feelings, thinking, sleep, appetite and behavior.
In addition to feeling sad, depressed individuals lack energy as well as pleasure or interest in daily activities. Focusing on daily tasks can be difficult, and sleep or appetite will often significantly increase or decrease. The severity and duration of symptoms may vary. In more severe cases of depression, a sense of hopelessness may be experienced, which could result in suicide attempts.
4. Who is at Risk?
Everyone is at risk for depression. Most people experience depressive symptoms during the course of their lives because of some biological, relational or financial difficulty, but in many cases these symptoms are short-lived and do not persistently interfere with one’s career, social life, or emotional experience. Nevertheless, sometimes depressive symptoms continue and significantly disrupt a person’s life. It is estimated that 1 out of every 20 people experience more severe depressive symptoms (i.e. a major depressive episode). Depression is more common in women.
Since some medical conditions can resemble depression, medical doctors and psychologists are careful to assess each area of a person’s life (viz. biological, social, and psychological factors) to rule out other possible explanations for depressive symptomatology. Once other explanations are ruled out, specifying the type of depression can also help in determining the type of treatment.
Depending on the origins and severity of the depression, various treatment options have been found effective. For more severe forms of depression medication is often suggested along with some form of psychotherapy. Even when the depression is not as severe, medication is sometimes suggested because certain types depression can have a biological explanation. There are several psychotherapy models that have been proven to be effective in treating depression with a relational, mental and/or emotional origin.
7. Living with Depression
Living with clinical depression seems to makes everything in life harder, even taking action to help oneself can be difficult. It is important, however, not to wait too long to seek evaluation and treatment. Initial actions to start feeling better include physical exercise (ex., running, playing sports) and participating in enjoyable activities (ex., movies, shopping, etc.). If you feel like you are suffering from depression, please consult a professional in order to establish a detailed and effective treatment plan.