Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone through either personal experience or through depression in a family member. It has been estimated that one in five Canadians will suffer with depression or low mood over their lifetime. Symptoms typically come and go, but can persist for months or years, disrupting peoples’ personal lives and careers and causing great unhappiness. It causes pain and suffering not only to those who have a disorder, but also to those who care about them. In the past decade, great strides have been made in understanding these disorders and how to treat them.
Impact of depression:
- Causes tremendous emotional pain
- Disrupts the lives of millions of people
- Adversely affects the lives of families and friends
- Reduces work productivity and absenteeism
- Has a significant negative impact on the economy, costing an estimated $44 billion a year
Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel. It affects your social behavior and sense of physical well-being. We have all felt sad at one time or another, but that is not depression. Sometimes we feel tired from working hard, or discouraged when faced with serious problems. This too, is not depression. These feelings usually pass within a few days or weeks, once we adjust to the stress. But, if these feelings linger, intensify, and begin to interfere with work, school or family responsibilities, it may be depression.
Depression can affect anyone. Once identified, most people diagnosed with depression are successfully treated. Unfortunately, depression is not always diagnosed, because many of the symptoms mimic physical illness, such as sleep and appetite disturbances. Recognizing depression is the first step in treating it.
You may have heard people talk about chemical imbalances in the brain that occur in depression, suggesting that depression is a medical illness, without psychological causes. However, all psychological problems have some physical manifestations, and all physical illnesses have psychological components as well. In fact, the chemical imbalances that occur during depression usually disappear when you complete psychotherapy for depression, without taking any medications to correct the imbalance. This suggests that the imbalance is the body’s physical response to psychological depression, rather than the other way around.