There are several forms of depression. The symptoms and their severity depend upon the person and the causes in each case. Symptoms generally include chronic feelings of sadness, despairing thoughts, lack of motivation, tearfulness, anxiety, problems with sleep, lack of self-care and a loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities. If left untreated, depression can worsen and lead to suicidal thoughts.
What causes depression?
Depression can be caused by any number of factors or their combination. Causes can include negative self-image, negative thinking, significant unresolved emotional traumas, troubled relationships, lack of meaning and purpose, difficult life transitions, career problems, health issues and substance use.
Although we can always point to genetic tendencies or difficult life situations as causes of depression, our early family relationships, traumatic history, longstanding beliefs and mental habits play a primary role in how we respond to difficulties. When I work with clients who are depressed, I look to assess the full picture.
A young adult's depression about not yet having a career path is very different from an older adult's depression about losing a key relationship and feeling lonely. There is also depression related to believing oneself to be broken or flawed, which may be caused by not having received consistent empathy and support during childhood.
In some cases, antidepressant medication can be very helpful to deal with clinical depression. In most every case, receiving therapy at the same time remains of primary importance. No matter the particular cause of depression and related problems, the therapeutic relationship offers empathy, connection and opportunites for self-reflection that heal at a deep level.