Q: What is depression?

Most people feel depressed, lonely, and sad some days. But when those symptoms last for a long time, involve physical symptoms, or include thoughts of self harm, it might just be clinical depression. Clinical depression can put your life on hold, drain the fun out of nearly every activity, and make it feel like there isn't much to look forward to.

Because depression can have such a large impact on someones life, and can go untreated for years, it's important to notice the signs of depression when they appear and take action to get help. Many students have failed out of school, adults have lost their jobs, and relationships have failed because of an untreated clinical depression.

Q: What causes depression?

While there is no one answer to what causes depression, there are a few risk factors that can make it more likely for someone to experience depression. These are:

  • Significant life events such as a breakup or a professional failure
  • High levels of stress or anxiety
  • Past trauma or abuse
  • Poor coping skills
  • Genetics and temperament

While each of these factors alone might not cause a depression, experiencing them in combination can often be too much for someone to cope with, with the result being a clinical depression.

Q: Is depression my fault?

One symptom that often appears in people suffering with depression is guilt and shame. They feel that their lack of productivity and difficulty is their fault, that they must be doing something wrong, and that if only they would try harder and do better everything would change. Often times this guilt and shame is increased by well meaning friends and relatives who tell the depressed person to "cheer up" and "look at the bright side". This gives the (not so) subtle message that beating depression is as simple as reading a few motivational quotes and setting a loud alarm.

And so, if you're feeling depressed, and you feel that it's your fault, there's no surprise there.

As with most issues, the truth is a lot more complex than a simple black and white answer. Of course there are things that someone who is depressed might be able to do better that we can technically assign blame (if that was our goal), yet, at the same time, there are many many factors that simply aren't in control of the depressed person. Telling someone who is depressed that they should "cheer up" is akin to telling someone who is learning a new language to "just say the right words!". It's just not that simple. If it was, they probably would have been doing it already!

Q: Can therapy help with depression?

Absolutely. If you study the causes for depression, you'll notice that while some causes are not amenable to change (genetics and temperament), most of the other are. In therapy you can:

  • Learn new coping skills
  • Process and heal from trauma and abuse
  • Learn to deal with stress and anxiety effectively
  • Develop new relationship and life skills

Depression is a painful and debilitating disease. Leaving it untreated very often doesn't make it better. Give yourself the gift of taking a step in the right direction. Our therapists are ready to help guide you and help you find the treatment that works best for you.

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