What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, and loss of joy. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life. A depressed mood is something most of us will experience at some point in our lives. We all feel low sometimes, often in response to different stressors. If you’ve been feeling a bit numb or disconnected, and a low mood has clouded your sense of self, purpose and joy in life, it’s important to find a different way forward. Despite how depression makes you feel, you’re not alone.
How will counseling based therapy benefit me?
Depression is common, and it is treatable. Symptoms may vary from person to person, but all types of depression – from mild to severe – can be effectively treated with mood management strategies. Depression is particularly responsive to counseling treatment. Counseling targets the underlying causes of depression. You’ll learn strategies to help regulate your mood, and ways to manage stress effectively.
Effective counseling is also the key to long-term recovery and the prevention of relapse. Evidence-based interventions used to treat depression include Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
What are the common symptoms of depression?
Interactions between various factors can increase the risk of depression. For instance, a person with a family history or a genetic risk of depression may experience symptoms of depression following a traumatic event.
The symptoms of depression can include:
- a depressed mood
- reduced interest or pleasure in activities that a person previously enjoyed
- a loss of sexual desire
- changes in appetite
- unintentional weight loss or gain
- sleeping too much or too little
- agitation, restlessness, and pacing up and down
- slowed movement and speech
- fatigue or loss of energy
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt at suicide
What are the risk factors?
Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.
Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:
- Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
- Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems
- Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide
- History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
- Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
- Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)
Can depression happen for no reason?
Life might look fine on the surface – great job, relationships, family life – but depression can still cloud our view, and darken our mood. Many people experiencing this type of depression become harshly self-critical, incorrectly assuming they are flawed, abnormal or damaged in some way because everything should be fine, but something just doesn’t seem right. It can feel hard to share what you’re going through with others, as often the response is “What have you got to be depressed about?” This may lead to feelings of guilt, embarrassment or shame, and isolation, which only intensifies the depressive episode.
What is the difference between depression and sadness?
Experiencing sadness at one time or another is part of the normal human experience. However, depression is more than the occasional sadness that people experience. When an individual suffers from depression, the sadness tends to be more pervasive or long lasting, and can be accompanied by one or more of the following: decreased interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth, excessive guilt, decrease in energy, concentration difficulties, appetite changes, sleep difficulty or excessive sleep, headaches, body aches and pains, and/or thoughts of suicide.