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"Depression loses its power when fresh vision pierces the darkness."
– Peter Sinclair
If you have lost interest in activities you normally enjoy, isolate yourself from others, find little pleasure in life, feel sad, disappointed, confused or anxious, or have lost your appetite and have sleep disturbances, you likely suffer from depression.
The causes of depression usually fall into one or more of the following characteristics:
- Biological disturbances
- Situational stressors
Before discussing depression more completely, please be advised that whatever the cause, depression is 100% treatable. If you are depressed, seeking help from a professional therapist or psychologist would certainly assist you in overcoming your depression and guiding you toward a joyful and meaningful life. Keep in mind that asking for help is a sign of your strength, not weakness. There is probably no greater problem that comes to the attention of psychologists or psychiatrists than depression. Depression affects individuals with various backgrounds. Whether you are rich or poor, male or female, depression does not discriminate. People of various races or ethnic backgrounds are equally affected.
We have all had periods of being "down in the dumps" when we have a "bad day" or are faced with a variety of stressors. Generally these feelings last at most a couple of days or so and we are then we move on with our life without further problems. Being "down in the dumps" becomes depression with a variety of symptoms when these symptoms interfere with our lives and last a long time. I will now discuss not only what depression is but the many ways it is present in our lives. Causes of depression will also be explored.
A man comes to my office and explains in the background interview that he just cannot understand what is happening to him. He goes on to say that he has a good job, is happily married with wonderful children, makes more than a sufficient income, has many close friends and up to recently was quite active. Further inquiry suggests the following symptoms which seem to have been going on for some time. He has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, has a diminished appetite, has problems sleeping, and has no energy to go to work or spend time with friends. This example of depression is not as common as other forms but in this case the cause is clear. Without any situational stresses in the person's life, it is vey likely that his symptoms are being caused by a biochemical imbalance in brain chemistry. I would refer this person directly to a psychiatrist for an evaluation of whether some anti-depressant medication could be helpful. I would also follow this up with some supportive counseling.
Let's discuss another incidence of depression. A woman client describes many if not all of the same symptoms as the person described above but in this situation the woman has just lost her husband through death. In this case however, it would be more understandable and obvious why such a person would feel so depressed. In this case, intervention by a professional psychologist would assist her in going through her grief process. The grief process has a series of stages and this would need to be explained to the client so they would know what to expect. Above all, this person would need a lot of reassurance that ultimately they will move through these stages of grief and once again live a productive, rewarding, and meaningful life over a period of time.
In summary, the most extreme cases of depression involve either a chemical imbalance or a significant loss. The loss might include divorce, diminished health, a lost job, etc. In all these situations, psychotherapy will in all cases be productive with mediation and/or psychotherapy.
There are a multitude of stressors in life that give rise to depression. Some of the most common stressors that can propel you headlong into depression include the following:
- Death in the family or death of a close friend
- Major career change, especially if it is a setback
- Divorce or marital separation
- Personal injury or prolonged illness
- Major legal problems
- Loss of financial stability
- Long-standing marital problems
- Moving from one city to another
- Ongoing strains with children
- Day to day strains of living
- Infidelity discovered in the marriage
- Chronic problems with coworkers or supervisors
- Loss of a close friend
- Adjustments to retirement
- The empty-nest syndrome
- Health problems
- An unknown cause
Any one of these problems can thrust a person into depression, with it being compounded when you experience multiple stressors at the same time.
Depression can cause many symptoms. People who are depressed may:
- Loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy
- Isolate themselves from others
- Find little pleasure in life
- Feel sad, disappointed, confused or anxious
- Have aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, etc.
Most people feel down from time to time. It is a natural response to stress and tension. But with depression, these feelings are severe or long-lasting. Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. The two key signs are loss of interest in things you like to do and sadness or irritability.
Additional signs of depression include:
- Changes in feelings, such as:
- Feeling empty
- Inability to enjoy anything
- Loss of sexual desire
- Loss of warm feelings for family and friends
- Feelings of self-blame or guilt
- Loss of self esteem
- Changes in behavior and attitude, such as:
- General slowing down
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Poor memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Physical complaints, such as:
- Sleep disturbances, such as early morning waking, sleeping too much or insomnia
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Unexplained headaches or backaches
- Stomach aches, indigestion
The most important thing to learn about depression is that it is successfully treatable in all cases!
Treatment usually includes psychotherapy and/or medication if needed.
Antidepressants can help ease the symptoms of a depression and return a person to normal functioning. This must be determined by a psychiatrist.
This can help many depressed people understand themselves and cope with their problems. Interpersonal therapy works to change relationships that affect depression.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people change negative thinking and behavior patters.
Depression is common. It affects millions of people each year. Depression is often ignored or untreated. People may not recognize the symptoms, be afraid of appearing weak, or feel too depressed to take action.
If you think you are suffering from depression, take action now. Again, depression is completely treatable. Most people can start feeling well again in a few weeks when they receive psychotherapy and/or medication. Once you become proactive and get the help you need, you will be able to feel good again and enjoy life. You will feel good about yourself, have great self esteem, and have an internal sense of calm, tranquility, and happiness.
To make you more aware of depression, I suggest that you take the Depression Test to help you access if you have depression and to what extent.
Take the Depression Test.