Notes on Depression

How is depression different from occasional sadness?
Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless and to blame themselves for having these feelings. Other possible symptoms of depression include chronic pain, headaches or stomach aches. They may withdraw from family and friends. Some people may feel angry or restless for long periods.

People who are depressed may become overwhelmed and exhausted and stop participating in certain everyday activities altogether. While everyone occasionally feels sad or “blue,” these feelings tend to pass rather quickly.

By contrast, someone with depression experiences extreme sadness or despair that lasts for at least two weeks or longer. Depression interferes with everyday activities – such as working or concentrating on tasks, or even eating and sleeping. Some depressed individuals may have thoughts of death or suicide.

What are some of the causes of depression?
Depression is also an indication that a person’s life is out of control with some mental, emotional and physical aspects. The disorder is possibly due to a combination of genetic, chemical, biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. Depression can be accompanied by chronic and severe diseases, such as heart disease or cancer.

Other more subtle factors that lead to a loss of self-identity or self-esteem may also contribute. Significant transitions and major life stressors such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job can help bring about depression. At other times, however, depression occurs when people are unable to see that they actually have choices and can bring about change in their lives. The causes of depression are not always immediately apparent, so the disorder requires careful evaluation and diagnosis by a trained mental health care professional.

Sometimes the circumstances involved in depression are ones over which an individual has little or no control.

Can treatment for depression be successful?
Completely. Absolutely! When a person receives competent treatment, depression is highly treatable. Highly trained mental health practitioners with years of experience studying depression and helping people recover from it are licensed psychologists. For emotional and mental health issues, like depression, there is still some stigma or reluctance associated with seeking treatment. Sadly, feelings of depression are often seen as a symptom of insecurity rather than as a sign that something is out of control. The truth is that individuals with depression do not easily “snap out of it” and suddenly feel better.