What is Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments?

Updated: May 29, 2020

According to the World Health Organization, over 264 million people worldwide are affected by depressive mood disorder but not everyone experiences the same depression. Just as there are many different types of depression, there are various kinds of depression relief.


Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” With millions of people suffering from this systemic disease, it is important to understand the signs of depression as well as the different forms that depression can take.


Depression can range in length and seriousness; recognizing the significance of your illness can help to determine when you should seek professional help. Your healthcare practitioner can help to find the best kind of management for your depression as well as recommendations towards severe depression treatment, if required.



1. Symptoms of Depression

Sadness is normal human emotion; everyone feels down sometimes and it is perfectly natural to experience different moods, depending on your own personal circumstances. That said, someone who is experiencing a normal bout of sorrow may also feel more positive emotions interspersed, such as joy or excitement.


However, in understanding depression, we must emphasize that a regular sad feeling differs from depression; sadness is an emotion whereas depression is a mental illness.


Depression is a longer-lasting aliment that typically extends past two weeks. Depression impairs your day-to-day life and is also indicated by particular warning signs.


Some of the signs and symptoms of depression are:


  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt

  • Loss of interest in things that used to bring you pleasure

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Changes to sleeping patterns; you may be sleeping too much or too little

  • Drastic weight gain or weight loss; eating too much or not enough

  • Thoughts of suicide and/or a preoccupation with death

  • Unexplained physical aches and pains

  • Crying fits and constant sadness


It may be normal to occasionally feel one or a few of these symptoms independently, over a short period of time. However, experiencing all of these depression symptoms at once, over a period of more than two weeks, may indicate a more serious issue.


2. The Many Faces of Depression

There are different types of depression and often, the variations correlate with the treatments available. The types can range from mild to severe and the early signs of depression can sometimes be hard to detect if someone is not aware that they are suffering.


There is some debate as to exactly how many forms depression can take; some depressive disorders overlap into other kinds of mental illness. Below, we illustrate three different categories of depression.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically occurs during the winter months with the decrease of natural sunlight. Studies have shown that Daylight Savings Time profoundly affects the body’s circadian rhythm, making it difficult for some people to properly adjust.

“One of the most salient findings regarding DST is the negative effect it has on mood, particularly in the northern latitudes of the earth.” People who suffer from SAD experience depression symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability and a loss of interest from pleasurable activities.


However, SAD is unique in that it manifests cyclically, with the change of seasons. Symptoms usually disappear with the beginning of spring (and when the clocks ‘spring forward’) and return again, in the late fall.


Situational Depression is subjective to individual circumstances. The onset of situational depression is brought on by major (and usually negative) life changes such as:


  • The death of a loved one

  • Job loss

  • An accident

  • Divorce/ losing a partner


People who are experiencing situational depression are triggered by the stress and anxiety that results from major life disruptions. In this case, feeling depressed correlates with the inability to accept one’s current state.


Situational depression can typically last around three months, starting from the triggering incident.


Clinical Depression is a more severe depression that is also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder. People can be diagnosed with clinical depression if they experience five or more depression symptoms that last longer than two weeks.


“At least one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities.”

Clinical depression greatly affects one’s ability to live a normal, productive and balanced life. Unlike SAD and Situational Depression which are triggered by a specific situation and are generally short lived, clinical depression can persist for months-even years-while slowly degrading the quality of one’s life.


3. Battling Depression

Fighting depression takes time, strength and patience but it is certainly possible to overcome this illness with the proper remedies. Depending on the type of depression that you have, there are natural ways to cure depression, as well as the option of prescription medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.


Mild depression symptoms can usually be treated without the use of antidepressant medication. Natural solutions are a great alternative to those who are sensitive to the side effects of prescription drugs.


Suggestions of natural remedies are:


  • Regular exercise

  • Proper nutrition including a significant decrease in refined sugar

  • Expressing gratitude

  • Connecting with others; volunteering, joining a sports team, etc.

  • Setting manageable goals

  • Establishing a daily routine


You can also supplement natural remedies with various forms of therapy by a licensed medical professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychotherapy and Bibliotherapy are some examples used to treat depression.


Proper assessment of your illness by a medical professional is important. If your depression is more serious, antidepressants may need to be prescribed.


If you are diagnosed with clinical depression, your health care professional may even suggest Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This is also referred to as ‘electroshock therapy’ and while the thought may conjure up extreme images, this is a painless and effective treatment for those who suffer from serious, suicidal depression.


If you are experiencing this mental illness to any extent, we encourage you to explore the best treatments for depression. Various forms of help are available and many people go on to live productive and successful lives, following treatment.


Want to work on a holistic healing approach for your depression? Check out our meditation coaching program and distance reiki healing treatment that helps with depression.

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