What is Depression?

By Licia Ginne, LMFT

It is more than just having a day here or there where we feel blue or out of sorts. Depression is one of the major experiences that bring people to therapy. It is a feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, often accompanied depressionby negative thoughts about ourselves, and can be a feeling of self-loathing. We may feel like we have hit major roadblocks to solving our problems and feel absolutely stuck. Depression may feel like a cloud that hovers over us and all we can do is wait for it to pass. Our negative thoughts may feel so convincing, it is hard for us to believe we could feel or think any other way.

There are various types of depression and you may experience the symptoms as very mild or severe, and you may just have the symptom for a short period of time or for long periods. Please remember that these are just guidelines that the American Medical Association has created and that no one person falls exactly within one particular diagnosis. We can find ourselves in the descriptions of all types of diagnoses – it doesn’t confirm that we have that particular disorder.

The following are lists of the usual symptoms that would lead to either a diagnosis of depression or manic depression:

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Decreased energy. fatigue, being “slowed down”
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

There are different types of depression and these can run from mildly depressed to what’s called major depression. Depression can also be referred to as uni-polar depression. Major depression: is a most serious type of depression. Many people with a major depression find they cannot continue to function normally. They may find their behaviors affecting their work and their relationships.

Manic depression or bi-polar disorder could include episodes of depression as well as episodes of mania. The list below describes some of symptoms of mania:

Symptoms of Mania:

  • Inappropriate elation
  • Inappropriate irritability
  • Severe insomnia
  • Grandiose notions
  • Increased talking
  • Disconnected and racing thoughts
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Markedly increased energy
  • Poor judgment
  • Inappropriate social behavior

Depending upon the person and their symptoms often the best form of treatment can be a combination of medication and psychotherapy, though this is a decision that should be made together with your treating physician or psychotherapist.

I have tried to give you just a brief overview of depression and manic depression. This should not be used to diagnose yourself or someone else. Only a licensed medical doctor or mental health treatment provider can actually diagnose mental health problems. If you are concerned about someone or yourself, please seek help from your physician, mental health clinic or mental health provider.