Total Therapy Blog
Mental Health Special Series | Know it & Beat it
What is Depression?
“I feel so depressed.”
“It’s such a depressing day.”
We often use comments like these to describe our feelings. We know what it feels like to be depressed, and it is not very pleasant. However, it is important for us to distinguish between this our everyday unpleasant mood from clinical depression. Depression can impact many areas of our lives – work, relationships, self-esteem, spirituality, and physical health.
Depression, also known as a Major Depressive Disorder, is one of the most common mental illnesses Canadians experience. In fact, close to 1 in 10 Canadians will experience major depression at some time in their lives according to the Public Health Agency of Canada(1). Depression can affect you at any age, with an average age at onset in the mid-20s (2). Despite its high prevalence, less than one third of people suffering from symptoms of depression seek professional help.
One of the reasons that prevent people from seeking help is lacking awareness of the disorder. It is often challenging to realize if either you or someone close to you is suffering from symptoms of depression. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and each individual reacts to symptoms differently as well. Some of the common symptoms of depression include (2);
- Feeling down or sad most of the day (Children and adolescents may feel more irritable than sad)
- Not being able to enjoy the activities you used to enjoy or nearly all activities
- Changes in appetite or weight (increase or decrease)
- Problem sleeping – not being able to fall asleep or staying asleep
- Lack of energy throughout the day
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Having difficulty thinking, concentrating and/or making decision
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide (Immediate help needed!)
- Impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
If you have been feeling down and/or irritated most of the day, or have lost your interest / pleasure for more than two weeks, it is highly recommended to talk to a physician and/or a mental health professional such as Registered Clinical Counsellor.
Depression can be treated in most cases, and there are various treatment options. Anti-depressants and counselling are some of the most commonly sought and recommended treatment options. Both have been proven to be effective, with some varying effectiveness for each individual. Often times, they are used together to maximize the benefit.
Counsellors can help you overcome depression by exploring suitable treatment options, investigating factors that may trigger episodes, developing coping strategies, helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle, and finding out the meaning of life.
People often describe the life with depression as being “down in the dumps” or “trapped in darkness”. Depression can really impact your life negatively and leave you dysfunctional. It can be a tough and lonely battle, but you do not need to fight this alone. Talk to someone close and reach out for support. Talk to a professional and beat depression. Everyone deserves to live a happy and healthy life.
(1) For more information, visit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/mi-mm/depression-eng.php
(2) American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
This article was contributed by Steve Baik, RCC. Steve is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (R.C.C.) with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. He has a B.A. in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Counselling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology, Vancouver.
“I enjoy getting out and experiencing the natural beauty of BC. I stay healthy with running, swimming, snowboarding and going to the gym.” – Steve
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