What is Depression?

What is Depression?
Are you feeling low and blue? 

Depression is far more than just feeling sad or down. It is a serious medical condition that affects the way you feel, think and behave. Everyone experiences periods of sadness or low mood, however when these feelings become persistent and start to interfere with your day-to-day life, it could be a sign of depression.

The purpose of this post is to explore the topic of depression. We will be taking a deep dive into understanding what depression is and what signs to look out for. We will also discuss potential causes and treatment options, along with self-help strategies and how to seek professional help, helping readers to arm themselves with the necessary information to better manage their mental health.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression can affect a person in many different ways. It can cause physical, mental and emotional changes which can have a negative impact on a person's quality of life. Some of the most common signs and symptoms to look out for are:

  • Persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Significant changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Sleep disturbances (too much, too little or poor quality)
  • Decreased energy levels and/or ongoing fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or helplessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Obsessive and intrusive thoughts or ideas
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

These signs and symptoms may vary from person to person, but if someone is displaying multiple symptoms over an extended period of time, it could be a sign that they are suffering from depression. It is important to seek professional help if you think you or someone you know is experiencing depression.

Depression is an incredibly complex condition that can affect people in many different ways. Understanding what causes depression can help individuals to better comprehend why they experience certain feelings and how to go about finding the right treatment for their needs.

There is no single cause of depression, and it can be caused by a combination of factors. Here, we will explore some of the most common triggers of this condition.


It’s been observed that depression tends to run in families, so it’s likely that genetics play a role in its occurrence. If you have a parent or close relative who has suffered from depression, then there’s an increased chance that you may suffer from depression as well.

Brain Chemistry

Research has found that those affected by depression often have an imbalance of certain chemicals in their brain. These chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, help regulate our emotions, thoughts, and moods. An imbalance in these neurotransmitters can lead to depression.

Life Events

Certain life events can also trigger depression, such as bereavement, losing a job, or going through a difficult break-up. In addition, ongoing stress and traumatic experiences, such as childhood abuse or neglect, can also contribute to the onset of depression.

Substance Misuse

Misusing drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of depression. This is because these substances interfere with the way your brain releases neurotransmitters, leading to an alteration in your mood and outlook.

Medical Conditions

Depression can also be caused by medical conditions that may affect a person’s daily life. For instance, those with chronic pain conditions may find that the constant pain leads to feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion. Similarly, those with thyroid issues may find that their hormones become unbalanced, leading to depression.

As we can see, depression can have many different causes. It is important to be aware of potential triggers in order to identify any signs and seek help if needed.

The Impact of Depression

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can have a severe and long-term impact on physical, mental and emotional well-being. There can be an overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness as well as changes in sleeping, eating and energy levels.

Physical Impact

Depression can affect physical health in many ways; ranging from headaches and abdominal pain to an increased susceptibility to illness. It can also cause weight-loss or gain and the lack of motivation can lead to a decrease in exercise, which in turn can make bouts of depression harder to battle.

Mental Impact

Depression can cause negative thinking patterns which can prevent someone from seeing solutions and making decisions. It can also cause feelings of guilt, anger and worthlessness. This can drastically affect a person’s general outlook on life and relationships.

Emotional Impact

Depression can cause intense feelings of sadness and emptiness, as well as a general emotional numbness. This can lead to difficulty expressing emotion and a sense of disconnection with the people around them.

Though depression can be very difficult to manage, it is important to remember that there is hope. Seeking professional help is key to managing this condition and living a healthier, happier life.

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can have a dramatic impact on a person's life, and treatment is essential. When it comes to tackling depression, there are many treatment options available and it is important to find the one that best suits you; this article will discuss the various treatments that could be a viable option.

Drugs for Depression

Drug therapy is commonly used to treat depression, with the main types of drugs being antidepressant medications and mood stabilizers. Antidepressant medications work to rebalance neurotransmitters in the brain which help alleviate emotional distress and regulate mood. Popular antidepressants include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Zoloft, or MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) such as Nardil and Parnate. Mood stabilizers, such as Lamictal or Lithium, are mainly used to treat bipolar disorder but can be effective in treating depression too. It is important to note that drugs should always be taken in combination with other forms of treatment.

Therapy for Depression

Psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ is another form of treatment for depression. This type of therapy helps to identify and change negative thought patterns and negative behavior, thus enabling people to gain a better understanding of their condition. Common psychotherapies used to treat depression are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). CBT focuses on changing problematic thoughts and behaviors whereas IPT looks at social and interpersonal relationships, and how these factors can impact mental health. DBT combines both CBT and IPT and also prioritizes mindfulness, emotion regulation and stress relief.

Alternative Therapies for Depression

In addition to drug therapy and psychotherapy, there are other less conventional treatments for depression. Some alternative therapies include exercises such as yoga and meditation, art and music therapy, light therapy and aromatherapy. Exercise can help by releasing endorphins which act as natural mood-lifters, whilst art and music therapy are used to express emotions and explore feelings of sadness in a creative way. Light boxes are often used to simulate the experience of outdoor light and can help to maintain regular sleep patterns. Aromatherapy helps to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels, whilst acupuncture has been found to regulate the body's hormones and improve mental and emotional well-being. All of these alternative treatments can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, but should not be used as a standalone remedy.

Finding the right balance between medication and therapy is key when it comes to dealing with depression. Everyone’s needs are different, so it is important to take into account your own circumstances and seek professional advice to establish the most suitable course of action.

Self-help Strategies for Managing Depression

Depression can be debilitating and all-encompassing, yet it is possible to take small, practical steps to better manage the condition and improve one’s quality of life. The following self-help strategies can help individuals to combat the symptoms associated with depression:

1. Get plenty of sleep

Being in a state of perpetual fatigue often exacerbates negative thoughts and emotions. For this reason, it's important to ensure that an adequate amount of sleep is achieved every night. Establishing a regular sleeping pattern can greatly improve concentration, mood, energy levels and overall quality of life.

2. Eat a balanced diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to remain healthy and function properly. Try to focus on adding foods into your diet rather than taking them away. Aim to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.

3. Exercise regularly

Physical activity can be a great way to boost self-esteem, reduce stress and cope with depression. Exercising releases endorphins, which are happiness hormones, and increases blood flow throughout the body, allowing more oxygen to the brain, improving mental clarity.

4. Connect with others

Spending time with other people can make a big difference when it comes to dealing with depression. Spending time with the people you care about will help to lighten the mood and provide support and comfort. It is also important to be kind to yourself and reach out for help if needed.

5. Avoid alcohol and drugs

It is never advisable to rely on substances such as alcohol or drugs to cope with depression. Although they may offer some temporary relief, they can actually worsen symptoms over time and lead to further distress. If substance abuse is a problem, it is recommended to seek help from a professional therapist.

6. Find a creative outlet

Creative activities like drawing, writing, playing a musical instrument or gardening can be a great way to manage depression. Expressing one’s feelings through creative outlets can help to distract the mind from negative thoughts and allow one to focus on something tangible and fulfilling.

7. Take time to meditate

Taking time out from everyday life to focus inwardly can be incredibly beneficial for those with depression. Meditation can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness, while promoting self-awareness, clarity and relaxation.

By implementing the above strategies, individuals suffering from depression can start to take control of their condition and work towards improving their overall quality of life.

Seeking Professional Help

When it comes to dealing with depression, seeking help from a mental health professional can be incredibly beneficial. These professionals can provide support, guidance and tailored strategies for coping with depression. They can also provide a safe space to process emotions and gain insight into one's mental health.

One of the greatest benefits of working with a professional is having an objective, non-judgmental person to talk to. They can help to provide clarity on complicated thoughts and feelings, and offer techniques that can be used to cope with difficult emotions.

In addition to traditional forms of therapy, many mental health professionals now offer online or telephone sessions. This makes it easier for someone to access help without having to leave their home. It should be noted that online therapy does have its limitations, so it is important to research the options available and ensure they are provided by an accredited professional.

Often a combination of things such as counselling, medication, lifestyle changes and self-help strategies can be effective in treating depression. Although the decision to seek professional help is an important one, it should not be seen as something to be ashamed of.

For those looking for information on mental health professionals in their area, online resources such as Psychology Today can be helpful. It is also possible to get referrals from primary care physicians, friends, family members, colleagues or even local support groups.

Ultimately, seeking the help of a mental health professional can be an incredibly valuable resource for those suffering from depression. It is not a sign of weakness, but rather a brave step towards better managing your mental health.

Perceived Stigma Around Mental Health

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, this condition is still stigmatized and many people who suffer from depression tend to remain silent, opting not to seek help due to fear of judgement. This can often worsen their existing condition and cause even more complications.

Studies have shown that individuals suffering from depression are faced with several social stigmas which stop them from seeking the help that they need. Social stigma is defined as a negative attitude towards an individual solely based on characteristics that may be out of their control. It is important to understand that this stigma is created due to the lack of knowledge or awareness about depression and how it affects individuals.

The stigma around mental health can be seen in a number of ways. One example of this is the language used when discussing depression. Studies have found that people who suffer from depression often feel that language such as ""crazy"" or ""lunatic"" can have a damaging and offensive effect. Another example of stigma towards depression is the idea that individuals with depression should be able to just ""snap out of it"". This lack of understanding and compassion can make it difficult for those struggling to seek help and can cause quite significant damage to their self-esteem and sense of worth.

Breaking down the stigma associated with depression is essential to creating an environment where individuals who are suffering can feel comfortable reaching out for help. Normalising discussions around mental health and providing easy access to support is key to ensuring that these individuals are not left feeling alone and isolated. Education is also a crucial part of tackling stigma as understanding and awareness of mental health issues can help to reduce prejudice and judgement.

It is important to dispel the myths surrounding depression and to recognise that it is a serious mental health issue that needs to be addressed with professional support. There is no shame in seeking or needing help as depression is real and can be devastating if left untreated. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather the first step towards getting back on the path to emotional healing.

Coping with Depression

Living with depression can be an isolating experience. It can be difficult to manage the symptoms and feelings associated with it, particularly in the long-term. There are many strategies that can help people cope with their depression on a day to day basis.

First and foremost, it's important to be kind to yourself. Being compassionate and understanding is essential in managing depression. Acknowledging that these feelings are real and valid can help to bring about a sense of acceptance. It's also important to practice self-care such as exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.

It can also help to talk to someone. Whether that's a family member, friend or a mental health professional, being able to express how you're feeling can be very beneficial. It can also be helpful to engage in activities that you find enjoyable and to focus on what brings you joy. This might include spending time outdoors, reading, watching a movie, listening to music or any other activity that brings comfort.

Helping others can also be very rewarding and can help to take your mind off of your own troubles. Volunteering for a cause you believe in can be a great way to do this. It can also be helpful to check in with family and friends who may be struggling, just to let them know that you're there for them.

Finally, there are many online resources available which can help to provide additional information and support. Sites like Beyond Blue and Mind provide helpful advice and connect people with other support services that can assist in managing depression.

The key takeaway is to remember that there are things you can do to help manage your depression. It's important to be kind to yourself and seek help when necessary. There are a range of options available to those struggling with depression, so don't hesitate to reach out.

Depression is a complex condition that can have lasting effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. This guide has provided insight into the symptoms, causes, impacts, and potential treatments of depression, as well as ways to start seeking professional help and strategies for self-help.

For those suffering from depression, understanding the condition and learning more about the available treatment options is key. Additionally, having access to valid resources and helplines can provide invaluable support. Whether you are dealing with depression yourself, or have a loved one who is, it is important to remember that help is available.

If you think you may be suffering from depression, consider talking to a mental health professional. Professional help can provide the expertise to properly diagnose depression and offer tailored treatment options. It can also provide a safe space to share feelings and receive guidance.