What is depression?

Basically, depression is low mood, or put another way, misery or unhappiness. What separates serious depression (the experts call it “clinical depression”), which causes people to seek medical or psychological help from everyday depression, is that this clinical depression affects people so much that it seriously affects their relationships, jobs, ability to do things etc and just will not go away. Sleep is often difficult, and appetite and sexual desire often drop off dramatically. People may seem tearful, irritable and angry, lethargic, or even suicidal if they are seriously depressed. However, there are treatments that can help.

What Causes Depression?

There doesn’t seem to be just one cause of depression, the list seems almost endless. Some of the major factors involved are:

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Family History of Depression
  • Alcoholism
  • Losing your Parents or being neglected by them
  • Low Self-Confidence
  • Relationship Problems with a loved one
  • Lack of Friends or Family
  • Recent Stressful or Traumatic Events

As you can see, almost anything bad that has happened to you can cause depression. However, people respond in different ways to bad or unhappy events, what may trigger depression in one person might not in another. Experts, whatever they might claim, still don’t really know why one person will get depressed while another one doesn’t in the same circumstances. Usually someone will offer some explanation with the word “genetic” in it, but be careful not to accept this on face value, because it often doesn’t help very much.

How Many People Suffer from Depression?

At any point in time about 1 in 5 adults are suffering from significant levels of depression and about 1 in 8 people get severe enough depression to require some form of treatment. Depression has been thought to account for anything up to three quarters (75%) of psychiatric hospital admissions. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to get serious depression, although recently depression levels have begun to rise in men.

What Therapies Work?

Almost all known therapies (and there are hundreds if not thousands of them) claim to be able to help relieve depression. However, be cautious, relatively few of them have the scientific research behind them to show that they do. Fortunately, most of the well known therapies have some research behind them.

These include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic Therapy. In general, CBT tends to offer shorter treatments concentrating more on the here and now of the problem, while Psychodynamic Therapies to cover more details of your background, relationships, and personality. However, as with all therapies, the exact method of treatment should be designed for the individual person rather that the person being fitted into the right therapy. In other words the therapy that will probably work best for you will be one that suits you.


Feeling sad is a normal part of life, especially following an event like the loss of a loved one, or a job. It would be of more concern if you didn’t feel depressed after these sorts of things. Serious depression can take many forms but what stands out most about it is that people don’t get over it in time as most of us do.