What is Depression?
Sadness is a normal part of life. Everyone feels the “blues” every now and then. Most of the time, sadness comes on as a result of a situation that happens in our lives. Sadness is typically passing, and resolves itself with time.
When you experience depression, you’re experiencing more than just passing sadness. Depression is when you feel severe despair over a long period of time. It affects all aspects of your life, including your mental health, physical health, relationships, work, and personal goals. As a hypo-arousal emotion, depression takes away your energy, making it difficult to fulfil your normal daily functions. You may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, engaging with others, finding interest in things you used to enjoy, feel worthless or hopeless, and find it hard to concentrate.
1 in 4 Canadians will experience depression at some point in their lives. It is extremely common, and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, and socioeconomic status. It is believed that many different factors cause depression, including genetics, family history, environmental factors, situational factors, personality, and physical health changes and challenges. While depression may not go away on its own, with professional support it is very treatable.
The following symptoms are common in people who experience depression:
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Feeling low self-worth
- Feelings of guilt
- Feeling hopeless
- Poor concentration and/or memory
- Sleep difficulties
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Aches and pains
Without treatment, depression can last a long time and may never be fully resolved. If you are struggling with sadness or depression, here are some next steps for you:
- Focus on what you can control. Often the tasks of getting out of bed and brushing your teeth can be huge accomplishments. Noting that you are in control of what you do can sometimes break the cycle of depressive thoughts.
- Gratitude list. Write a list of things that happened during your day that you are grateful for. Often opening up more positive pathways in our brains can be helpful.
- Counselling has been proven to be very effective in helping individuals overcome depression. Not only can a mental health professional help teach you the strategies needed to help stop the depressive cycle, they can also help you use them correctly.
- In severe cases one should also consult their family doctor since medication, when taken in conjunction with Psychotherapy, has often proved helpful.