Understanding & Treating Depression

Author: Philippa Gold  Editor: Hugh Soames  Reviewed: Michael Por

Understanding Depression


The term “depression” is used a lot in modern society. Some people use it to describe a feeling of sadness, while others express themselves as being depressed from time to time.


An estimated one in 15 adults are depressed at any given year, and one in six individuals will experience the mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime. Unfortunately, depressive episodes can hit at any time and completely change a person’s life.


Depressive Disorder is a serious medical condition and it affects the way a person feels. The way a person acts and thinks is negatively affected by the disorder. Feelings of sadness occur and many people lose interest in the activities they once enjoyed. Different emotional and physical issues can result from depressive disorders, all of which have an impact on a person’s life, work, and relationships.


Their symptoms of depression can be cured, however. Treatment is available to help individuals with depression cope with the issues that it creates.

What is Depression?


Being depressed isn’t just a case of the blues and it is far more than just feeling sad or blue from time to time. Depression is an illness that can cause a wave of sadness to hit the sufferer all at once. These waves of sadness can produce physical and mental symptoms that are hard to get rid of11.J. W. Kanter, The Nature of Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Syndromes, and Behavior Analysis – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2395346/.


A person that has never experienced a depressive disorder may not be aware of what is occurring to them. It can take some time for a person to realize what their mind and body are going through. An individual may have physical issues, emotional problems, and cannot function.


Tasks that were once easy are now far more difficult. Individuals may struggle at work or to do simple tasks around the house. A person will experience continuous feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in activities they enjoyed is also likely to occur, and a person will feel, act, and think differently.


It isn’t easy to snap out of a depressed state because the mental health disorder can grip someone and not let go. Long-term treatment may be needed to get through depression and recover, although the journey to recovery is long and winding.


There is no get well quickly fix for depression, although millions of sufferers wish this were true. The majority of depression sufferers will undergo psychotherapy or take medication. In many cases, people will use both.

Symptoms of Depression


Symptoms vary depending on the sufferer. Some symptoms may be mild but others can be severe and each person experiences the feeling of being depressed differently. What affects one person may affect another more significantly and vice versa. While no two sufferers of depression experience the exact same symptoms if you find yourself suffering from any of the following symptoms of depression it would be wise to speak to your therapist or medical provider.


The symptoms of depressive disorder include:


  • Feeling sad
  • Possessing a depressed mood
  • A loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • A change in appetite causing either weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • A lack of energy and/or an increase in fatigue
  • An inability to sit still, pacing, or hand-wringing
  • Slowed movements or slowed speech
  • Feeling worthless
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, making decisions or concentrating
  • Thoughts of death
  • Thoughts of suicide


In order to receive a depressive disorder diagnosis a person must exhibit the symptoms of being depressed for a minimum of two weeks. The symptoms must show a change from the individual’s previous levels of function for a depression diagnosis to be made.


Unfortunately, there are a few medical conditions that mimic the symptoms of depression. Doctors will need to rule out medical issues such as a brain tumor, vitamin deficiency, or thyroid problem to ensure depression is the issue.

Causes of Depressive Disorder


There are several causes of depression and all depression sufferers are different. The cause of depression for one person and their symptoms may not be the same as those for another and the illness can affect anyone.


A person may look happy and bubbly on the outside, but they may be suffering from a depressed mood on the inside. Depression isn’t easy to spot and plenty of people can disguise it around friends and family.


There are several potential causes of depression. These causes include:


  • Biochemistry: The chemicals in a person’s brain can contribute to depression.
  • Genetics: The illness tends to run in families. However, just because a mother has depression, their children may not get it and vice versa.
  • Personality: An individual that is overwhelmed easily with stress, has low self-esteem, and is pessimistic about life is more likely to suffer from depression.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to violence, abuse, neglect, and/or poverty can make a person vulnerable to depression.


Latest Treatment for Depression


Depression is a serious mental health illness but the good news for sufferers is that it is treatable. Depression is one of the most treated mental health illnesses today22.B. Quimm, Scholarly Articles on Depression: History, Definitions, & More, Scholarly Articles on Depression: History, Definitions, & More.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.gale.com/open-access/depression. Treatment is generally successful and around 80% to 90% of sufferers respond to treatment over time. Additionally, treatment provides relief from some symptoms for nearly all depression sufferers.


A medical professional will evaluate a sufferer before making a diagnosis. An evaluation includes an interview and examination and Medical professionals will need to rule out any issues like a vitamin deficiency or thyroid problem during the physical exam including a blood test. Once a diagnosis is made the treatment can be prescribed.


The examination will also identify specific symptoms. An individual’s family medical history will be explored.


After the evaluation, a medical professional may prescribe:


  • Medication

Antidepressants may be prescribed to alter a person’s brain chemistry. The medication may improve the individual in the short term, but the medication needs to be taken for some time to get the full benefits. Once the symptoms have improved a person will likely need to continue the medication for six or more months.

  • Psychotherapy

Talk therapy could be prescribed on its own or in conjunction with medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on solving problems. Individuals can recognize issues and work to alter their thinking. CBT helps people overcome problems by changing their thought patterns. The number of CBT sessions a person needs depends on the level of their depression.

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is a treatment typically used for patients with severe or extreme depression. ECT is used for individuals that don’t respond to medication or psychotherapy. A person is put under anesthesia and given electrical stimulation targeted at their brain. A person may undergo two to three ECT sessions per week. Up to 12 sessions may be required.

  • Self-help and Coping

People with depression can also do exercise, meditation, yoga, improve their diet, and avoid drugs and/or alcohol to raise their moods. By being more physically active and having a healthy diet, individuals may be able to reduce their depression.


Medication and psychotherapy can also help you overcome depression. Simple activities including exercise and eating healthier can also improve your depression symptoms.


It is important to remember that depression is treatable and help is available no matter how serious your depression is. There are a number of treatment centers in the World that specialize in Depression, with Remedy Wellbeing being one of the most popular luxury residential centers for treatment resistant depression. On the other end of the scale many individuals opt for sessions with a local counselor, while others prefer online counseling options.

Overcome Depression


Depression saps your energy, hope, and motivation, making it difficult to take the measures necessary to feel well.
Thinking about what you should do to feel better, such as exercising or spending time with friends, might be exhausting or impossible to put into action at times33.M. A. Bentley, Depression, Depression – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673618319482.


It’s a Catch-22 that the most beneficial actions are the most difficult to carry out. There is, nevertheless, a significant distinction between something difficult and something impossible. While healing from a depressive disorder is not easy, you do have more control than you realize, even if your sadness is severe and persistent.


According to Philippa Gold of Remedy Wellbeing, “the key to overcoming depression is to start small and work your way up. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should be able to go for a walk around the block or call a loved one’.

Steps to Overcome Depression


Taking the initial step is always the most difficult. However, going on a stroll or getting up and dancing to your favorite music are things you can do right now. And it can significantly improve your mood and energy for several hours which is long enough to implement a second recovery step, such as cooking a mood-boosting meal or making plans to see an old acquaintance.


By adopting the following tiny but positive measures day by day, you will soon be able to shed the heavy fog of perpetual sadness and feel happier, healthier, and more hopeful.


Reach out and keep in touch


Obtaining assistance is critical in conquering the feeling of being depressed and it can be tough to keep a healthy perspective and the effort required to overcome depression on your own. At the same time, the nature of depression makes seeking treatment difficult and when you’re sad, you tend to withdraw and isolate, making it difficult to connect with even close family members and friends.


You may be too tired to chat, embarrassed about your situation, or guilty for ignoring particular relationships but remember this is only your sadness speaking. Keeping in touch with others and participating in social activities will improve your mood and attitude dramatically.


Seek help from those who make you feel safe and cared for


The person with whom you speak does not need to be able to fix you; they simply need to be a good listener and someone who will listen carefully and compassionately without judgement.


Make face-to-face time a priority


Phone conversations, social networking, and texting are excellent ways to remain in touch, but they cannot replace face-to-face quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can help to alleviate and prevent sadness.


Keep up with social activities


When you’re depressed, it’s tempting to withdraw into your shell, yet being around other people will make you feel less depressed.


Find ways to help others


It’s good to be supported, but research reveals that providing support boosts your mood even more. Find ways to help others, both big and small; volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for someone.


Take care of a pet


While nothing can replace a human connection, dogs can bring joy and friendship into your life and make you feel less lonely. Caring for a pet can also get you out of your head and give you a sense of purpose, both of which are potent antidepressants.


Join an emotional support group


Being among other people who are suffering from depressive disorders can help you feel less alone. You can also encourage one another, give and receive coping advice, and share your experiences.


10 ways to remain connected


  • Discuss your feelings with one person
  • Volunteering allows you to help others
  • Meet a pal for lunch or coffee
  • Request that a loved one contact you on a regular basis
  • Take someone to the movies, a concert, or a small gathering
  • Contact an old acquaintance by phone or email
  • Take a walk with a fitness partner
  • Make a weekly dinner date
  • Take a class or join a group to meet new people
  • Trust a religious person, a teacher, or a sports coach

What to Say to a Depressed Person


Do you want to talk about it? I’ll be there when you’re ready


You can’t make someone talk, but knowing you’re available can make them feel a lot better. If they haven’t told you about their depression, you could suggest that you’ve observed they’re struggling and that you’re available if they want to chat. If you just inquire, “Are you OK?” they may be accustomed to faking it and respond, “I’m fine.”


If they aren’t ready to chat right now, assure them that you will be there for them when they are. They may remember your offer and come to you when they are going through a difficult period and need someone to talk to.


What can I do to assist you today?


Depressive disorders frequently causes weariness, difficulty sleeping, and a lack of ambition. Getting out of bed might be difficult at times and asking what you can do for them will truly help them get through the day. Perhaps they aren’t eating well, and you can bring them dinner. Perhaps they require a morning call or text to ensure they arrive at work on time. Offering to do so is a means of letting them know it’s okay to seek assistance.


What Not to Say to a Depressed Person


Do not provide them with “useful” ideas or words that appear to be a remedy for their depression because this can come across as judgmental or uncaring.


Things not to say to a depressed person:


  • “Just think positive things
  • “I’m not sure what you’re so depressed about”
  • “I promise everything will be fine”
  • “I stopped eating sugar, and I was cured!”
  • “You just need to get out of here”
  • “There are so many individuals out there who are in worse shape than you”
  • 1
    1.J. W. Kanter, The Nature of Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Syndromes, and Behavior Analysis – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2395346/
  • 2
    2.B. Quimm, Scholarly Articles on Depression: History, Definitions, & More, Scholarly Articles on Depression: History, Definitions, & More.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.gale.com/open-access/depression
  • 3
    3.M. A. Bentley, Depression, Depression – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved September 18, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673618319482