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Understanding Depression During Challenging Times

It is normal to experience feelings of sadness and despair in response to adverse life events. Such events could include loss, major life changes, stress, or disappointment. In most cases, the sad feelings resolve as you come to terms with the changes in your life.

In situations such as bereavement, these feelings may persist for months and return at significant times, such as birthdays and anniversaries related to the lost loved one. Provided you have times when you can enjoy things, however, this sadness is not a sign of depression. Depression is common. One in three people will experience a major depressive episode at some stage in their lives. While most cases of depression are mild, about one person in ten will have a moderate or severe episode.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a disorder that is evidenced by excessive sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable things, and low motivation.

What Are the Signs Of Depression?

Psychological Symptoms

Feeling miserable. This misery is present for much of the day but may vary in its intensity. The misery lasts for weeks.

· Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities.

· Slowed or inefficient thinking with poor concentration, leading to difficulties sorting out problems or making plans or decisions.

· Recurring unpleasant thoughts, particularly about being guilty, being a bad and unworthy person.

· Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of harming yourself in some way.

Physical Symptoms:

· Loss of appetite with excessive loss of weight.

· Loss of interest in sex.

· Loss of energy, even when not physically active.

· Loss of sleep despite feeling exhausted. Sleep is typically restless and unsatisfying with early morning wakening (one to two hours earlier than usual). Some people, however, may actually sleep a lot more than usual.

· Slowed activity and speech.

Any of these features may serve as warning signs of depression. You need to exhibit at least five of these symptoms to be suffering with a depressive disorder.

What Causes Depression?

No one knows exactly what causes depression. It is clear that genetic factors are important in many cases of depression. Depression seems to run in families (as do other mood disorders), and about 30% of the predisposition for depression is due to genetic influences.

Stressful life events play a part in the onset or relapse of depression. Ongoing conflicts with others can take their toll on our well-being, as can other social and environmental stressors such as financial difficulties, retirement, unemployment, childbirth, loneliness, or loss of someone or something important. In vulnerable people, these unpleasant life events may be enough to cause or worsen a depressive illness.

A person’s personality characteristics are an important factor. They do not appreciate good things, and bad things seem overwhelming. Some people have a tendency to view things this way even when they are not depressed. In other words, they may have a depressive personality style. Another possible cause of depression that should not be overlooked is physical illness or medications. Preexisting chronic Illness can cause depressions.

How to Deal With Depression

There are a range of ways to deal with depression, and often they are best used in conjunction with each other. Seeking help and support is one of the primary ways to deal with depression.

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