Understanding depression

Symptoms of Depression:

There is a difference between having a normal ‘down’ in mood, and having Depression.  Feeling ‘down or sad’ is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, and is usually triggered by a difficult, challenging, hurtful or disappointing event, situation, or experience such as, a hectic week at work, having been promised that pay rise that didn’t happen, or hearing bad news.  It usually only lasts a short time unlike Depression that can last for two weeks or more, and there does not have to be a difficult or challenging event or situation for it to develop.  When you have depression you are sad almost all of the time about everything.  
In addition to feeling sad most of the time, other symptoms of Depression include, a loss of pleasure or interest in most activities, including those that previously brought you enjoyment or pleasure, sleeping less or more than usual, changes in appetite or weight, loss of motivation, energy and feeling tired/sluggish, feeling more irritated or agitated than usual, excessive guilt and worthlessness, poor concentration and difficulties with memory and focus, difficulties making decision, and thoughts of dying or suicide.  To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Depression, you would need to have at least 5 of the above symptoms, for a continual duration of at least two weeks.

Cause of Depression:

While numerous research have been conducted, very little is known as to the cause/s of Depression. Alarming statistical figures indicate that mental illness is expected to become one of the most debilitating conditions by the year 2020 hence the need for further research.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of Depression.  The general feeling that most sufferers of depression experience, is a feeling of being trapped and lost.  The factors that can cause you to feel trapped can be internal or external.  External factors are those that you have little or no control over such as, a physical condition (back injury), or a disability.  These factors usually result in the development of Depression that is secondary to a primary physical condition, or situation. Internal factors on the other hand are not as permanent, and you have more power to change should you chose to such as, a skill, a relationship, or job. When internal factors contribute, Depression is said to be the primary condition as it is absent from any other external factor.  A common internal factor that as a treating psychologist I came across over my nineteen years of practice, is a critically low self-esteem.  

One of the areas that has not been sufficiently explored is the connection between Depression and Critically Low Self-Esteem, a factor that I believe to be as important as a healthy immune system is to physical well-being.  Without a healthy self-esteem (the core of our mental well-being), dealing with the challenges that life dishes out to you will be extremely difficult.  A healthy self-esteem is essential in the development of healthy coping skills, the skills that are necessary to deal with life’s stressors.  Without healthy coping skills, it is impossible to live a healthy, fulfilling and meaningful life.  

Developing a healthy sense of self-worth, and effective coping skills such as, strong assertiveness skills, and proactive problem-solving skills, are essential in the prevention of Depression.  Without these skills, you will avoid anything that you think you might fail at, and anyone that you think you might be rejected by.  Continuously avoiding what life has to offer and the opportunities to grow to your potential will inevitably lead to Depression.  

Heal Your Mind, Heal Your Life is a self-help book specifically written with the goal of developing the necessary coping skills including self-esteem, to overcome Depression and Anxiety.