What is depression?
The term depression is commonly used to describe low moods or feelings of sadness, though as a syndrome, major depression refers to the presence of difficult thoughts and feelings. Physical sensations and behaviours also manifest themselves in depressed individuals.
What causes depression?
A combination of factors, including biological and psychological influences such as genetics, unhelpful thoughts, stress, loss and hormones can lead to the development of depression in an individual.
Who is most susceptible to depression?
At any stage of their lives, anybody is susceptible to depression or feeling depressed.
How common is depression?
At some point in their lives, approximately one in four people will experience a significantly depressed mood. Depression commonly accompanies comorbid disorders such as anxiety, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
An individual suffering from depression will experience a number of symptoms, some of these visible, and others that are not. Signs of depression include, but are certainly not limited to the following: lack of motivation, lost interest and reduced participation in activities, increased or lost appetite, changes in sleep patterns, negative thoughts, feelings of helplessness, isolation from friends and family, low moods, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Things to look out for if you suspect someone is suffering from depression?
Someone suffering from depression may seem “flatter” in mood, and seem to gain very little if any pleasure from things they used to enjoy. A depressed individual will tend to spend more time at home or alone, and will drastically reduce their interactions with friends and family. Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive drug or alcohol use may become apparent, as well as increasingly pessimistic or negative comments regarding themselves or the future.
What treatment options are available for depression?
Depression can be treated through a range of methods, including the use of medication, psychotherapy and shock therapy. For some individuals suffering from depression, one of these treatment methods may be enough, however many chose a combination. With regards to psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, the most researched and common technique is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which aims to shift the depressed individual’s feelings by addressing and challenging their style of thinking.