Everyone feels sad from time to time—it’s a normal part of navigating the challenges and disappointments of everyday life. But depression is more than a low mood. It can affect a person’s thinking, relationships, ability to carry out family and work responsibilities, and health. To make matters worse, ignoring depression may make these problems work together to worsen mood and deplete energy further. Fortunately, with the right treatment, support and self-care, depression is very treatable and need never reoccur.
What causes depression?
There is no single answer to this question. Sometimes depression is caused by changes in the body’s chemistry that influence mood and thought processes. In other cases, depression is a sign that certain mental and emotional aspects of a person’s life are out of balance. In other situations, depression may be a result of a specific incident such as the sudden passing of a loved one, a failed business venture, a divorce or a loss of employment. Regardless of what causes depression, the most important thing is recognizing that it is happening and reaching out for help and support.
Symptoms of depression
If you have or someone you know has any of the following symptoms continuously for more than two weeks, depression may be indicated. Although no single symptom is diagnostic of depression, all of these symptoms should be taken seriously and professional advice should be sought (e.g. family doctor, counsellor).
- Feeling sad, discouraged, worthless, empty hopeless
- Not enjoying activities that used to be fun
- Feeling guilty or on-edge
- Finding it hard to make decisions
- No desire for sex or intimacy
- Not wanting to eat or having trouble stopping eating
- Being overly and unfairly self-critical (e.g. “I am no good anymore”)
- Thinking about self-harm, suicide
- Unable to sleep well, restless at night
- Consuming more alcohol than normal
- Avoiding family, friends, co-workers
- Avoiding work, being unproductive
If you agree with the statements above, talk to someone about how you feel.
- Depression (major depression). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved October 4, 2018 from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977.
- Depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved October 4, 2018 from: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression/Overview.
- Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved October 4, 2018 from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml#part_145399.
- What is depression? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved October 4, 2018 from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.