From time to time, it’s only human to feel ‘depressed’, a common case of the blues or just generally unmotivated. But when that feeling persists and becomes a regular part of your everyday life, you may be suffering from clinical depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder.

Depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you think and feel. If you are experiencing depression or know someone who may be, it’s common to have difficulty performing normal everyday activities. It’s important to realize that depression is not a weakness, but rather a mental health disorder that is treatable with therapy, medication, or a combination thereof.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression manifests differently for everyone. Some individuals might experience one episode in a lifetime, while others may experience many over extended periods of time. Common signs and symptoms to look for in depression are:

  • Persistent feelings of helplessness, sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities that would normally interest you
  • Trouble sleeping, or alternatively sleeping too often
  • Irritability, frustration and outbursts
  • Exhaustion
  • Weight gain or loss, based on an increased or decreased appetite
  • A fixation on negative thoughts or failures
  • Physical symptoms including headaches and back pain
  • Restlessness or anxiety

The symptoms of depression can also vary by age. For young children, depression may include signs such as clinginess, worry, avoiding extra curricular activity or going to school, and often a loss of appetite. In older adults, depression may manifest as a sudden change in personality, avoiding socializing, suicidal thoughts and unusual fatigue. While depression presents itself differently for each individual, the causes are often similar.

Causes of Depression

Researchers have pinpointed four main causes of depression. For an individual, depression can be caused by one or several of these factors combined.

  • Biology – Physical differences in the brain may cause depression. Further research is required to determine how significant these changes are.
  • Chemistry – The way the neurotransmitters in the brain interact may have an affect on mood, which can cause depression but also shines light on potential treatment.
  • Hormones – Hormonal changes caused by common life events like menopause, pregnancy, puberty or thyroid issues can cause depression.
  • Genetics – Individuals who have a family history of depression are more prone to the disorder.

How to Treat Depression

While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for depression, don’t be discouraged. Treating depression can be done through lifestyle changes, therapy and medication – but, the proper treatment varies for each individual, so a professional should be consulted to help guide you on your journey towards balanced mental health.

Lifestyle changes including an increase in exercise, more time spent outdoors and healthy eating can help improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Avoid alcohol, drugs or other stressors and depressants, and instead focus on self-care and improving the way you treat your mental and physical health.

Therapy for depression involves counselling with a mental health professional to speak about your condition and its related issues. There are several types of counselling for depression, including cognitive behavioural therapy or interpersonal therapy. A therapist can help guide you to identify the root cause of your depression and negative behaviours, and recommend healthy ways to improve your mental health. Therapy allows you to regain a sense of control in your life by providing you with strategies to adjust to crises, set goals and develop healthy habits.

In counselling, you may find that your mental health professional recommends seeing a doctor about prescribed medication for depression. There are several types of medication for depression, and in the case that you are a good candidate for this form of treatment, your healthcare professionals will help by assessing your mental and physical health and selecting the right path for you.

Your Counselling is a Calgary counselling practice that specializes in psychotherapy for depression. Despite the weight of depression, it isn’t something you should be embarrassed talking about. We know that depression is treatable and worth seeking help to overcome. If you are ready to take your first step towards your best life, contact us for a free consultation.