What is Depression?

We all go through ups and downs in our mood.  Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as having a feeling of impending doom.  However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all.  Instead, they may feel lifeless, empty and apathetic whilst sometimes may even feel angry, aggressive and restless.

Depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life and interferes with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting.

Clinical depression goes by many names, “the blues”, biological depression, major depression… But it all refers to the same condition namely;  feeling sad and depressed for weeks on end, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy and taking little or no pleasure in things that gave you joy in the past.

A person who is depressed just “can’t get moving” and feels completely unmotivated to do just about anything. Even simple things like getting dressed in the morning or getting out of bed become large obstacles.

Depression is the common cold of mental disorders.  Most people will be affected by depression in their lives either directly or indirectly through a friend or family member.

Causes of Depression

While the exact cause of depression is not known, a number of things can be associated with its development.

Depression does not result from a single event.  Researchers believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors.

In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships and coping skills matter just as much as genetics.

However, certain risk factors may make you more vulnerable to depression, including:

  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Health problems or chronic pain
  • Loneliness
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse

Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms do vary from person to person. It is important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows.

However, if the symptoms are strong and have continued for a long period, the more likely it is that you are dealing with depression.


  • Feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Anger or irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Self-loathing
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Children and Teenagers: Usually young children are unable to express their feelings in words. They tend to show their sadness with their behaviours such as:

  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Regressing in their school performance
  • Fail to thrive
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Frequent complains of physical problems such as headaches and stomach-aches
  • Persistent boredom
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns

In addition, teenagers might lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, take more risks without showing concern for their safety and are more likely to attempt self-harm than younger children.

Treatment for Depression

Think Psychological Services employs a range of therapies to treat depression.  The most common methods include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Relaxation techniques

Often, a blended approach of the above methods is used.  In most cases, the best approach also involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes and emotional skills building.

The aim of therapy is to teach you practical techniques on how to reframe negative thinking and employ behavioural skills in combating depression.

Think Psychological Services will also help you work through the root cause of your depression, helping you understand why you feel a certain way, what triggers your depression and what you can do to stay healthy.