First of all it is very important to say that depression is not a weakness or a character flow – it is a real medical illness. Depression is a common response to a wide range of life’s difficulties. The particular cause of depression is not always clear. There are many triggers, such as response to a difficult life situation, or genetic heritance might also play a role.
People who have depression are not just in a “bad mood” for a couple of days. There are many symptoms of depression. People have long periods of sad mood, change in sleep and eating habits. Often depression comes with feelings of worthlessness and lack of interest in social and daily activities. Each person might have different symptoms. Depression changes the way a person feels, thinks, and behaves.
Clinical Depression is characterized by 5 or more of the following symptoms that persist for at least 2 weeks:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Change in sleep habits (insomnia, waking too early, and/or oversleeping)
- Loss of appetite and weight—or overeating with weight gain
- Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
- Thoughts of suicide or death
The good news is that appropriate therapy or counseling has been proven to be an effective treatment for depression. There are many techniques and tools used in therapy. In therapy you can learn effective tools and strategies to understand your depression better, work on finding a way out and prevent it from returning in the future.
For example in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), individuals with depression oftentimes have what are referred to as “Automatic Negative Thoughts” that trigger a negative, depressed mood and lead to negative, self-defeating depressive behaviors. This treatment focuses on the Automatic Negative Thoughts and enables the individual to identify and “reframe” or change the Negative Thoughts to more Positive Thoughts. In return, this will lead to improved mood and improved functioning. The whole process is not as simple as it sounds, it requires a lot of work and commitment in and also out of the session for the client.