Depression can affect everyone from children to adults. It is a common term used to identify a low mood or deep sadness. While variation in mood is quite natural, typical mood variation is very different from atypical mood variation.
Depending on one’s age and circumstances, symptoms of depression can be misdiagnosed or overlooked as temperamental behavior in children, hormonal in the case of teenagers, or lack of effort for adults.
What Are Symptoms Of Depression?
Clinically, there are a variety of ways in which depression is classified and there are indicators suggesting each. Here is a list of some common indicators of depression:
- Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
- Irritability, angry outbursts, or frustration
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures, or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Reduced sex drive
- Restless sleep, insomnia, or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite including decreased appetite and weight loss or increased cravings and weight gain
- Agitation or restlessness
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Indecisiveness, distractibility, and decreased concentration
- Fatigue, tiredness, and loss of energy to the point where even small tasks seem to require a lot of effort
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
It is common for anxiety and depression to coexist in combination, or in response to, other difficulties such as traumatic experiences. While it’s possible that a family history of depression may increase the risk for developing depression, one thing is certain: clinical depression is complex with many contributing factors. For some depression is severe and obvious while for others it is more moderate with a general unhappiness or misery without a clear reason why.
Cause Of Depression
Some of the causes or contributing factors of depression are:
- Chronic or acute stress: the extent to which a person experiences something as stressful varies
- Conflict: prolonged or unresolved personal conflicts or disputes
- Maladaptive or insufficient coping skills: avoidance of problems, conflicts, ignoring your needs and emotions, repression of anger, sadness, and a prolonged state of being overwhelmed, for example
- Lack of satisfaction with daily living: chronic difficulties with direction in life
- Abuse: past or present physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Major life events: Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, getting married, or having a child can lead to depression. Moving, losing a job or income, retiring, and getting divorced (even if you want it).
- Personal problems: problems such as social isolation, betrayal, being cast out of a family or social group, self-esteem or pervasive negative perceptions of self and others
- Death or loss: sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one or the loss of something of high importance
- Health problems and medical conditions: inadequate sleep, exercise, nutrition, and chronic pain, serious illness, etc.
- Certain medications: most medications have side effects that can affect mood such as beta-blockers or reserpine
- Genetics: a family history of depression may increase the risk, however, genetics on their own do not cause depression
- Substance abuse or addiction: Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.
It is important to know that therapy to treat depression with or without medication can be very effective. Due to the complex nature of depression, I advocate for a comprehensive approach in treatment that addresses the complexity of depression and leaves all options open.
Through our depression treatment sessions you will:
- Learn about the causes of your depression so you can better understand it.
- Learn to identify unhealthy behaviors, maladaptive coping mechanisms, and thought patterns that keep the depression in place.
- Learn how to develop helpful, healthy coping mechanisms, behaviors and thought patterns.
- Learn more effective coping and problem-solving skills needed to regain a sense of happiness and direction in your life.
Treating depression is possible with psychotherapy. Oftentimes complementary modalities along with psychotherapy are beneficial in resolving depression. For information on the complementary modalities we could use, see the Approaches page.