What is depression?

What is depression?

Clinical depression, or unipolar depression, is a moodMDI symptoms image disorder in which the individual may feel sad, helpless, hopeless, as if life is just too overwhelming and burdensome.

Is depression a necessary or inevitable experience? The answer is clearly. . . yes and no. Yes, everyone experiences depressed feelings from time to time; no one escapes the hurtful things in life. No, not everyone sinks into depression in the face of adversity.

Depression can be a completely normal response to painful circumstances, or it can be a sign that a person is “going down in flames” because he or she doesn’t know how to handle sensitively something that must be handled with skill.

The more complex our world gets, the more things we face that need to be handled with great care. That includes both internal experiences, such as sadness over the breakup of a relationship, and external ones, such as being laid off from a job.

Depression affects every aspect of a person’s life, from biology (such as sleep problems) to relationships (such as withdrawal). Intervention, such as professional therapy or counseling, is usually needed to alleviate the disorder.

This should not be confused with manic depression, or bipolar disorder, a condition in which the individual can swing from extreme highs, or mania, to severe lows, or depression. While help for bipolar disorder is usually a combination of medication and therapy, clinical depression can usually be treated successfully with brief therapy methods alone.

Symptoms

The symptoms of depression vary between individuals. While one person may be too agitated to sleep, another may become lethargic and sleep most of the day. Sometimes it can help to look at changes in thought and behavior for telltale signs of this disorder.

Depression can affect:

  • The Body. Insomnia and fatigue are the most common symptoms of depression manifested in the body.
  • The Mind. Difficulty making decisions, paying attention, or spinning around the same negative thoughts (“rumination”) are common mental (“cognitive”) symptoms of the disorder.
  • Behavior. Depression can cause people to behave self-destructively, impulsively, cry uncontrollably for what seems like no reason, attempt to commit suicide, or abuse drugs or alcohol in order to cope.
  • Emotions. Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, emptiness and excessive guilt can be triggered.
  • Relationships. Depression can make relationships with others much more difficult; entering into destructive relationships or choosing social isolation are common during depression.

How do you cure depression?

Depression can’t really be cured because life is forever throwing at all of us difficulties we must learn to face and manage skillfully. Sadness and hurt are parts of life that no one escapes. A goal is to handle difficulties as temporary problems to be solved in efficient ways.

With sensible approaches to psychotherapy–and medication, if necessary–depression can be managed and overcome. Going to therapy to learn appropriate coping mechanisms can help a depressed person feel better about himself or herself in a surprisingly short period of time–usually a dozen sessions or less.

It is now known that depression occurs as a result of biological, social, and psychological factors, so taking all elements into account is important if therapy is to succeed.