What is depression?
Depression is more than just low mood. It’s a common psychological issue that is characterised by feeling sad, hopeless or low in mood. It is normal to feel these things every now and then, however for someone with depression, these symptoms occur persistently over a longer period of time i.e. more that 2 weeks, and impact negatively on their daily functioning.
Depression is fairly common, with 1 in 4 people experiencing significantly depressed mood at some point in their live. Depression doesn’t discriminate, and can affect any kind of person at any life stage, so you’re not alone.
What causes depression?
There may be a clear trigger for becoming depressed, but there doesn’t need to be and each person is different. In fact, many people struggle with these experiences for many years before seeking help. While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, a number of things are often linked to its development. Depression doesn’t typically develop as a result of one specific issue or event, and it usually develops from a combination of recent events and longer term or personal factors.
Depression can be caused by many different factors, and each person is different. For some people, a family history of depression, changes in brain chemicals, or their personality type can increase their risk. For others, certain life events such as long term unemployment, serious illness, or an abusive relationship can contribute to developing depression. Misusing drugs and alcohol can both lead to and result from depression, and it is common for people with depression to also struggle with substance problems. Often it is a combination of several factors that leads to depression.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Not all people experience the same symptoms, but most will experience a combination of several symptoms involving behaviours, thoughts and feelings, as well as physical symptoms. These can include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, unhappy, flat or down almost every day
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Lack of interest in activities you usually feel pleasure in doing
- Feeling tired and lethargic
- Feeling worthless or having a negative self-view
- Thoughts such as “life isn’t worth living” or “I am a failure”
- Withdrawing from friends and family, or avoiding social functions
- Falling behind at work or school
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope with negative feelings
Psychological Treatments for depression
If you are depressed you’re not just going to be able to “snap out of it”. One of the most effective treatments for depression is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). In fact, research has shown that CBT is as effective as treatment with medication and has a higher rate of relapse prevention than medication alone, and works for a wide range of people. CBT helps people improve their mood by changing their thinking patterns and developing coping skills to deal with life’s challenges. Mindfulness is helpful for many people experiencing depression and anxiety, and particularly those with recurrent depressive episodes. Those experiencing longer-standing depression, perhaps with a history of problematic relationships and vulnerabilities in self-worth may also benefit from a Schema Therapy approach.
Here at myLife Psychologists we are very skilled in helping people who have experienced depression or low mood and are trained in a range of high quality therapies that can help.
For more information or to book an appointment with one of our clinical psychologists, contact us.
We’ve recently had Mental Health Week, a wonderful national initiative aimed at raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, as well as reducing stigma and supporting people to get assistance. While acceptance of mental health issues is improving, as a society we still have a long way to go and unfortunately many who need help […]