The first thing to understand about depression is that it is not a disease, a punishment for guilt or a sign of being crazy. It is an experience. It is a reaction to the world; it is the way we think, feel and act. Everyone has times when they feel down, sad, empty, low, pessimistic, and hopeless and so on. It is the degree to which we suffer that characterizes depression.
- Depression is more intense than sadness.
- Depression lasts longer.
- Depression interferes with the way we lead our daily lives.
There are many symptoms associated with depression. The most common of these include:
- Feeling empty or numbed
- Waking too early in the morning
- Loss of energy and motivation
- Loss of appetite
- Sulking, self-pity, loss of confidence and self-respect
- Poor concentration
- Feeling distant from others
- Feeling defeated and hopeless about one, the world, the future
- Feeling that nothing we do can make any difference
This is a different experience from grief, sorrow or sadness, which may be an active and indeed appropriate response to a painful life event. Depressed people invariably minimize or ignore their strengths and maximize their shortcomings. Depression is too complex for us to be able to pinpoint a few standard causes. In some cases it is a reaction to a very painful experience which occurred early in life; this experience becomes buried or repressed, yet exerts a hidden influence on the present. Unlocking past conflicts can be a tortuous affair and we recommend expert professional help if any client feels the need to confront this type of problem. The usual cause of depression is an accumulated catalogue of minor losses, privation, self-denial, poor self-expression, high standards and feeling stuck or a victim of circumstance. In such cases the actual depression is triggered by a crisis.