What is Depression?
Sadness is one of our natural human emotions. It is common that we feel sad and down from time to time in our everyday lives. For many individuals, their low mood is brief and does not drastically impact their functioning.
However, for some individuals, their sadness can become long-lasting and intense. When this happens, they may start to lose interest and motivation in their activities. Their abilities to work, study, socialize, or take care of their families may be diminished. These signs may indicate that the individual is experiencing an episode of depression.
Types of Depression
The most common depressive disorder is Major Depressive Disorder. Many individuals could experience different types of depressive disorders, such as:
Persistent Depressive Disorder
This is previously known as Dysthymia. The depressive mood is often at a lower intensity but is persistently long (2 years or longer for adults).
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Individuals’ mood is disturbed with changes of changes, often during the winter months.
Postpartum Mood Disorder
Some mothers may develop depressive moods and symptoms a few weeks and months after childbirth, but some could experience depressive symptoms before their delivery.
Symptoms of Depression
Depressive symptoms include:
Feeling depressed, teary, hopeless, or discouraged
Loss of interest and motivation in hobbies or everyday life activities
Feeling worthless, excessive guilt
Feeling agitated or restless (e.g., can’t sit still, pacing) OR having slowed speech, thinking, or movement
Difficulty concentrating, thinking, and/or making decisions
Fatigue and lack of energy
Significant changes in appetite and weight, either too high or too low
Sleep difficulties, either having insomnia or excessive oversleeping
Suicidal or self-harming thoughts
If an individual experiences a few of these symptoms consistently for a sustainable amount of time (2 weeks or more), then this person is likely to have a depressive episode.
Treatment of Depression
Fortunately, depressive disorders are highly treatable. Besides medications, psychotherapy is a very effective treatment for depression. Individuals with depression can benefit from various evidence-based treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT).
Through CBT, they can learn to modify maladaptive thoughts and behaviours that reinforce their depression. Many individuals find ACT and MBCT to be helpful. They learn to become mindful of their maladaptive thoughts; they then choose to maintain their focus in the present moment to engage in healthy behaviours that often improve their mood. Others benefit from EFT. When they learn to understand and process their emotions, they develop adaptive emotional responses. Often, psychologists employ a mix of these treatments to assist individuals in overcoming their depression.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, contact us for a free 15-minute consultation to see how we can help you on your path to feeling better.