Almost all of us go through “ups and downs” in our lives. However the normal experiences of life shouldn’t be confused with the medical condition known as depression. Depression is a state of mind that can leave a person in a sad or discontented mood. A depressed person feels lethargic, lack of motivation, hopelessness and may even have suicidal thoughts.
Depression can be of different types, including bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), perinatal depression, but clinical depression is the most common mood disorder. The symptoms could be severe, moderate or mild and may be persistent in some cases. The cases are increasing with slugging economy, rise in unemployment, crimes and use of drugs.
Symptoms of Depression
Each person is different and the symptoms may vary depending on their unique conditions, but there are some common symptoms of depression:
- Depressed mood
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
- Frequent crying or feelings of sadness
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usually-enjoyed activities
- Change in weight or appetite
- Sleep problems
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration or difficulty in making decisions
- Unexplained physical conditions such as muscle pain or headaches
People who are suffering from depression are likely to face difficulty coping with daily stressors and may feel helpless and alone. In some cases the most routine activities like getting out of bed, bathing, and dressing may feel like very difficult to complete.
Depressive mood disorder is also associated with emotions such as anger, shame, and fear, and sometimes these emotions can be visible in the body in the form of aches, pains, nausea, and other ailments. The problem can result in the feelings of tension or irritation and may lead to frequent crying, and it is not abnormal to feel intensely fatigued without relief.
Some facts about Depression in Canada
- Mood disorders indirectly affect all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague
- 8% Canadians experience a major depression in their lifetime
- 1% Canadians experience a bipolar disorder in their lifetime
- 1% Canadians experience schizophrenia in their lifetime
- 12% Canadians experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime
- People under 20 years of age have highest rate of depression symptoms
- Number of suicides in Canada every year – 4000
- Studies have consistently documented higher rates of depression among women than among men: the female-to-male ratio averages 2:1
Causes of Depression
Depression is usually caused by combination of factors including genetic, biological, personality and environmental. Brain chemicals like level of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin can also affect a person’s risk of becoming depressed. Life experiences like experiencing trauma, separation or divorce, death of a close family member, domestic violence, social isolation and financial instability can also brain chemistry and may cause depression. Sometimes depression may also occur as a defence mechanism in order to avert experiencing painful emotions. For example, women who have recently given birth may suffer from postpartum depression.
According to a study around half of the population of people who have suffered from depression have never gone to see a doctor about this problem due to the social stigma attached.
Breaking it Down
Depression can present differently in men and women, young people and older adults.
Depression in Youth
While some teens with depression appear sad many others do not. In fact irritability is frequently the primary symptom (and complaint from parents) followed closely by hostility, grumpiness and being short tempered. Frequent unexplained aches and pains such as headaches, aching muscles, stomach pain and back pain are also more common in young people.
Depression in Women
Research tells us that rates of depression in women are twice as high as they are in men and about 1 in every 8 women will develop depression at some point during her lifetime. Women also tend to experience certain symptoms more often than men do, such as seasonal affective disorder which appears in the winter months and is due to lower levels of sunlight. Women are also more likely to present atypical symptoms of depression such as sleeping excessively, eating more and gaining weight and tend to have more guilt associated with their depressive symptoms.
Depression in Men
Depression in general carries a stigma with it in our society but with men in particular it can be mistakenly attributed as a sign or weakness or being excessively emotional. Depression in men is a very common medical condition and no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. When they feel hopeless or overwhelmed with despair men tend to cover it up by drinking too much, behaving recklessly or exploding with anger. Rather than talking about their feelings men are more likely to complain about the physical symptoms of depression such as a loss of interest in their work or hobbies, feelings of irritability and fatigue, problems sleeping, headaches, back aches or sexual problems. Even though depression rates for women are twice as high as those for men, men are 4 times as likely to commit suicide as women so it is important for any man to seek help with depression before their feelings of despair lead to thoughts of suicide.
Difference between male and female depression
|Women tend to:||Men tend to:|
|Blame themselves||Blame others|
|Feel sad, apathetic and worthless||Feel angry, irritable and ego inflated|
|Feel anxious and scared||Feel suspicious and guarded|
|Feel slowed down and nervous||Feel restless and agitated|
|Have trouble setting boundaries||Need to feel in control at all costs|
|Find it easy to talk about self-doubt and despair||Find it ‘weak’ to admit self-doubt or despair|
|Use food, friends and ‘love’ to self-medicate||Use alcohol, TV, sports and sex to self-medicate|
Counselling for depression
The Family Enhancement Centre offers depression counselling in Brampton, Mississauga, Niagara Falls and Orangeville. The condition is highly treatable however due to the social stigma and discrimination attached with mental illness many people avoid seeing a therapist. We have a team of highly experienced therapists who are adept in various therapeutic approaches for depression counselling including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and psychodynamic therapy.
Regardless of the approach, depression counsellors at The Family Enhancement Centre can help a person view a depressive state with curiosity and without judgment, in order to understand and heal the source behind depression. Many times simply identifying the reason of your depressive mood can enhance treatment outcomes and provide some relief from depression.
Therapists for Depression Counselling
The Family Enhancement Centre has a team of professionally qualified and registered social workers who have wide experience in treating depression. Our counsellors can help with general depression, post partum depression, feeling depressed, depression anxiety as well as teen depression. Our therapists offer depression counselling in English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Malayalam and Cantonese. Click on the link below to find therapists for depression counselling in your area:
- Depression counsellors in Brampton
- Depression counsellors in Mississauga
- Depression counsellors in Niagara Falls
- Depression counsellors in Orangeville
Minimizing Your Risk
If you or someone close to you suffers from depression, these points may help:
- No individual or family member should feel responsible for depression. It is an illness with often complex causes. Blaming someone for their depression or telling them to “pull themselves together” doesn’t help and may further isolate the individual
- Talk to your family doctor or a mental health professional about the depression. If a friend or family member is depressed, offer to go with them to make it easier
- Be a good listener and try to get the person who is depressed to talk about his/her feelings. Let them know that it is all right to talk about these things. Don’t contradict them or try to “talk them out of it”. They need you to listen
- Involve other friends and family members if the person with depression agrees. The more support, the better
Books on depression: Therapists at The Family Enhancement Centre recommend the following books for more information and self help on Depression. Many of these can be found at your local bookstore or library:
- The Feeling Good Book by Dr. David Burns
- Control Your Depression by Peter Lewinsohn
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Matthew McKay