Depression is a clinical condition which is sometimes situational in origin, sometimes originates in long-standing emotional trauma, and sometimes has a genetic or other biological basis.
In the first case psychotherapy is usually the treatment of choice; in the third depression is commonly treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, where the medication puts a kind of “floor” under the debilitating feelings so that people can bring themselves more fully to the work of therapy than they would otherwise be able to do. Treatment is more likely to vary in the second case, depending on the severity of the depression. Sometimes it is approached with the same sort of combination used in the third case, and sometimes with psychotherapy alone.
Some signs of depression include:
- a loss of pleasure in many, most, or even all activities;
- fatigue, or decreased energy and motivation;
- difficulties sleeping or waking up;
- significant weight loss or weight gain;
- feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, or worthlessness;
- difficulty making decisions or thinking clearly; and/or
- thoughts of suicide.
People sometimes use the word “depression” to mean or to include temporary feelings of being sad, blue, gloomy, or otherwise unhappy. These sorts of feelings may well be present as components in depression, but unless they persist for more than a couple of weeks, or are incapacitating, or seem to have no cause or basis in the person’s life, they are probably not clinical depression in themselves.