An Overview Of Depression: Definition, Psychology & Treatments

By Gabrielle Seunagal |Updated April 1, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

The National Institute of Mental Health explains that depression is a serious mood disorder which impacts the way a person feels and how well they are able to function in society. Individuals who suffer from depression regularly take hits to their self-esteem, quality of life, and how they are capable of managing themselves. Depression is very different from sadness, and it's not something that someone can simply shake off or get over. A professional diagnosis of depression generally follows once someone ongoingly experiences multiple symptoms of depression for two weeks or longer.

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

A Closer Look At Depression

The experience of depression varies from person to person. Not everyone will experience depression in the precise manner of someone else, and that's to be expected. Each human being is unique with their circumstances, body chemistry, and other factors which impact their experiences. Sometimes, depression can vary in degrees, although the longer it lasts, the worse it tends to get. This is because depression creates a pit where people feel like they are trapped and unable to get out.

Symptoms Of Depression

Presently, there are a variety of symptoms which are associated with the existence of depression. These symptoms have emotional, mental, and even physical impacts. Knowing the symptoms of depression matters and is something which all people should be aware of. If someone suddenly begins acting in ways which conflict with their normal personality, this could be a sign of depression. So many lives and relationships have been lost because the people around a depressed individual were unable to recognize what they were going through.

Some common signs of depression include feelings of emptiness, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in normally enjoyed activities, restlessness, and withdrawing from others. Many people who find themselves battling depression may also struggle with concentration, experience massive gains or losses in weight, and even experience thoughts of suicide. Again, the specific symptoms and degrees can vary, but if someone is habitually evidencing multiple depressive symptoms, this could be a clear indicator.

Causes Of Depression

In this day and age, there are multiple factors which are linked to the development of depression. Falling into one or even more than one of the upcoming criteria does not automatically mean that a person will undergo depression. However, the likelihood increases. Each is different and has a tolerance threshold. Nevertheless, understanding the causes of depression can make a significant difference when it comes to prevention measures and clinical treatment after the fact.

Individuals who are genetically related to others who have previously struggled with depression may be more vulnerable to this mood disorder. Scientists are largely investigating more details into the reason why this link exists, but as of now, it is well-documented as a cause of depression. Of course, not everyone with relatives who have struggled with depression will share this struggle. Still, recognizing genetics as a potential cause makes a difference, especially if someone falls into other risk factor categories.

The quality of a person's lifestyle is another common cause of depression. Someone who is constantly under stress, pressure, and exposed to environments which are not good for them may develop depression over time. This is why being extremely conscious and vigilant of what's happening in our lives is so very impactful. Getting swept up is so easy, but at the end of the day, each person's mental health and wellness should always come first, even if that means letting go of other things.

Traumatic experiences which a person goes through yet does not properly deal with can also cause depression in certain cases. This is a prime example where depression serves as a symptom of a greater problem which lurks beneath the surface. The fact that unresolved trauma can trigger depression in human beings is a prime example of why people need to address issues as they arise. This may not be initially easy or comfortable, but in the long run, it always pays off.

Finally, clinical illnesses and even certain medicines can alter an individual's brain chemistry and engender depression. Again, this is another risk factor which varies according to the individual's brain chemistry and potential other circumstances. If you or someone you know begins to experience depression as a result of a health issue or after certain medication, contacting a physician immediately is critical.

The Psychology Of Depression

The American Psychiatric Association explains the extent to which depression impacts people. Unlike sadness and grief, depression is deeper and longer and not necessarily situationally based. This is why people tend to withdraw from others, behave in manners which are abnormal from their usual personalities, and even lose interest in life. It's not uncommon for people who are experiencing sadness or grief to claim that they are feeling depressed. In the majority of cases, this is not clinically accurate. However, ongoing sadness and grief which is not managed can turn into depression.

Some people question the clinical legitimacy of depression and how it impacts people around the world. At this point, there is research across the board, which affirms the seriousness of depression and it's emotional, physical, and psychological impacts. Understanding mental health matters because it impacts how society views and treats people who are working to overcome depression and other psychological issues.

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Depression Can Be Difficult To Navigate On Your Own

Treatment Options For Depression

Depression is a very serious mental health issue, but with the proper assistance and guidance, depression is very treatable. Depression does not mean the end of an individual's story. As a matter of fact, many people have experienced depression, gotten the necessary treatment, and come back stronger than ever. There is always hope and room for rehabilitation and improvement.


Psychotherapy is one of the leading treatment options for depression, as noted by the American Psychological Association. This manner of treatment is effective because it involves an individual working with a therapist who can get to know them, learn about their depression, and potential underlying factors. Once these things have been established, the psychotherapist can then begin helping their patient develop strategies, action plans, and techniques to overcome the disorder.

When going through the process of psychotherapy, it's important for patients to remain open and receptive to feedback. Sometimes, the therapist may make statements or ask questions which are unexpected or surprising. Many times, therapists want to provoke new thoughts and ideas. A certain level of trust is important to the therapeutic process. It is the job of the therapist to establish a safe environment where everyone is free to be honest.


Individuals who are going through depression may also be prescribed medication. The specific medication which is prescribed can vary from person to person. Whenever medication is involved, especially for treating depression, it is paramount that only a licensed doctor prescribes this medication. Under no circumstances should someone who is not a licensed doctor administer medicine to someone who is going through depression. This has the potential to exacerbate depression and any ongoing symptoms.

Knowing That You Are Not Alone

Whenever an individual is faced with depression or another challenge, it can be easy to feel all alone in the world. As a matter of fact, this feeling is one of many reasons why isolating oneself from others is a common indicator of depression. However, no matter how scary things may seem, you are not alone. Many amazing people in this world can be there for you and help you if you allow them to do so. This is relevant, regardless of whether you are dealing with depression or something else entirely. Hard times and obstacles manifest in different ways for various individuals.

If you're interested in getting help and having a proven, trusted confidant, then you will be thrilled to learn about BetterHelp online therapy. At BetterHelp, we prioritize the provision of help and guidance above all. Everyone experiences challenge at one point or another but having the right support system and people to count on during these times makes all the difference in the world. Online therapy is a proven method which can reach all people and ensure that anyone interested in professional care has access to it.

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