What is depression, and what causes it?

Depression is a mood that just about all of us experience from time to time. Most commonly, it is some combination of feelings like sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, inadequacy and unworthiness. Negative thoughts go along with depression too, for example, comparing yourself negatively to others, thinking that you just donít measure up, or having guilty thoughts about what you have (or havenít) said or done. Depression can also be accompanied by physical distress in the form of aches, pains, muscle stiffness or tension, headaches, stomach distress, low energy and fatigue.

Depression is caused by changes in brain activity (with the naturally occurring brain chemicals that normally regulate mood). These changes can be triggered by stress, trauma, lifeís disappointments, loss of a relationship or loved one, and chronic pain or illness. They can also be caused by the way you habitually think about yourself and your relationships. Itís really true that your thought style can be hazardous to your health.

Sometimes serious depression runs in the family, and there seems to be an inherited biological predisposition as well as learned ways of thinking that contribute to the problem.

When should I get for treatment for depression?

While almost everyone gets down from time to time, the mood usually goes away in a few hours or days. If youíve been depressed for more than a two week period, it may be time to seek help. Itís also advisable to have a consultation with a mental health professional if youíre experiencing some of the following symptoms:

How is depression treated?

Whether depression is triggered by your genetic inheritance, by stress, or by the way you habitually think about yourself, you can learn to use your mind in a way that promotes healing and prevention of future episodes. Cognitive behavioral therapy (learning to recognize negative, irrational thought patterns and replace them) and interpersonal therapy (learning the tools of emotional intelligence that promote healthy relationships) are proven treatments for depression. Psychodynamic and existential explorations can provide profound understanding. Sometimes medications are helpful, too. I will discuss the different treatments with you, and together weíll develop a treatment plan that fits for you.

Content and webdesign © 2009 Karen Robson, MFT
Untitled Document