We all feel low sometimes. Sadness, feeling blue or down is a part of being human and experiencing life’s disappointments and losses, both large and small. Sometimes, however, a low mood or disinterest in relationships, work or other activity takes over and we may feel helpless or lose hope.
Depression can take many forms including feelings of emptiness, worry, anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, irritability, hurt, or restlessness. You may lose interest in relationships or activities that once brought satisfaction and pleasure. Loss of appetite or overeating, problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions may also be part of your experience. Inability to sleep (insomnia) or excessive sleep, fatigue, loss of sexual energy and aches, pains, or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may also be related to depression.
At its extreme, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide or attempts to end one’s life. If you are thinking about ending your life or self harm, we encourage you to reach out to someone — a friend, a family member, a professional or a suicide hotline. Taking this step now to getting help is important.
Depression may be experienced across a range from mild to severe including:
- mild feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, apathy and disengagement
- moderate levels of emptiness, hopelessness, inactivity and body symptoms
- severe loss of energy, inability to get out of bed or leave the house, feelings of dread and despair, thoughts of suicide, withdrawal from everyday activities and relationships
Therapy can help relieve depression and may include any of the following:
- understanding personal history, family and social pressures, thoughts and emotional patterns or reactions
- discovering useful or meaningful aspects of depression and its symptoms
- providing support and structure to change habitual ways of responding to relationships or interpreting events and experiences
- reframing and building on strengths instead of focusing on perceived weaknesses
- learning and applying techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises and gratitude practices
- adjunctive use of medications when indicated