What is Depression?
Depression is characterised by feelings of sadness, low mood, loss of motivation and energy to do things you usually enjoy. Most of us from time to time will have experienced feelings of sadness or low mood and feeling like you want to withdraw from the world for a while.
Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that these emotions served a protective function for the brain and body in the short term, encouraging individuals to rest from social activity and find new ways to solve a problem through ruminating thought.
Depression may be understood as an experience that not only affects the whole biochemistry of the brain and body but is primarily fuelled by feelings of isolation and disconnection tied to the belief in the identity of a ‘separate self’ struck by grief and loss. It is our psyche’s response to disconnection from the true nature of our Self, yet also an opportunity to cultivate and reconnect with our own inner wisdom and light.
It is a call to learn how to deal with the emotion of sadness, and to confront and resolve our inner conflicts that prevent us from experiencing universal love.
Signs and symptoms of depression
"There's no point"
“Nothing good ever happens to me” “Life is not worth living”
“My future looks bleak”
“It’s all my fault”
“I’m a failure”
Withdrawing from others
Not getting things done
Not doing enjoyable activities
Increased consumption of substances to 'take the edge off' (eg. sugary foods or carbs, alcohol, herbal remedies, prescription meds or other drugs)
Sick and run down
Poor sleep patterns
Poor appetite (eg. increase or decrease in eating habits)
Unexplained aches and pains
Weight loss or gain
Reduced energy or tiredness
Sadness or misery Overwhelmed Unhappy
Lacking confidence Indecisiveness
What influences depression?
There is no one single cause per se, there are many contributing factors for depression that interact and influence each other.
Genetic and/or hereditary (Eg. family history of mental illness)
Drug, alcohol or medication effects
Physical health problems (eg. heart condition, spinal cord injury)
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT FACTORS
Traumatic family upbringing (eg. childhood trauma)
Stressful home environment
Ongoing relationship conflict or domestic violence
Stressful work environment or unemployment
Bullying, isolation or social difficulties
Lack of education
Limited access to services
Highly sensitive, passive or shy personality type or temperament
Poor coping skills
Poor interpersonal skills
Other mental illness diagnosis (eg. PTSD, OCD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar disorder)
When should I seek professional help?
If depression continues for a long period of time or is interfering with you enjoying a healthy and meaningful life, it is worth seeking professional help.
Persistent feelings of sadness, tearfulness, irritability and misery, accompanied by
a loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities for more than a few weeks may be a sign you’ve crossed out of ‘normal circumstance’ where it is helpful, into a scenario where prolonged depression is harmful for your health and wellbeing.
Heart disease is more common among individuals that suffer with depression and it affects recovery and increases the risk of further heart-related incidents such as heart attack and sudden death. Individuals who do not have good social support networks (such as someone to confide in and opportunities to participate in social activities) are also at greater risk of depression and heart disease.
Often, individuals with depression have trouble performing everyday activities, have difficulty concentrating on their work, tend to isolate themselves, feel lethargic and often lose the ability to feel pleasure from activities such as eating and sexual intercourse.