What Causes Depression?
Requested by Tom Depressed Man aged 43. Brisbane Psychologist Margi Matters answers.
Whether or not a person succumbs to depression is influenced by many factors such as resilience, coping resources, social supports and a sense of connection with other people. People who enjoy caring and rewarding social supports are less likely to succumb to depression. If you do become depressed having a supportive social network helps greatly to speed recovery.
Depression always has a history. Some common sources of depression include difficult illnesses, being in constant physical pain, and becoming a parent (post natal depression). Experiencing some type of loss such as the ending of a relationship or losing your job or losing your home can all set you up for depression. A sense of personal rejection and a lack of social connection have been highly correlated with developing depression. Depression is often associated with burn out, where you have had to cope with an overload of stress for much too long.
Sometimes depression sets in following a long slide down a spiral of disappointments, perceived ‘failures’ and self doubt. Along the way self belief and confidence are lost. You may feel you have ‘lost yourself.’
Sometimes the source of the depression needs to be uncovered in therapy as you may not understand clearly the reasons for becoming depressed.
Treatment for Depression
Competent counselling and therapy is an effective treatment for depression.
Sometimes medication is appropriate and helpful as an interim measure while you are helped to address what lies at the source of the depression. A small percentage of people may require longer term medication, however the majority of people can recover from depression relatively quickly with the right help.
In essence, treatment helps you to break out of the negative feedback loop, by assisting you to make adjustments in your thinking and in your thoughts and also by helping you to resolve underlying emotions. Treatment also involves helping you to put right whatever needs to be addressed in your life. This could be resolving underlying conflicts or working on self esteem and stress reduction strategies.
Changes in behaviours, routines and habits such as developing good sleeping patterns are important. Making small changes in your work or home environment such as playing music or bringing more daylight into your living or work space can bring surprising benefits in lifting your mood. Strategies as simple as going for long walks are tremendously effective in lifting your mood.
Sometimes major changes are required like changing jobs or ending a harmful relationship. The counselling process helps you to develop goals and strategies that will put you onto a positive upward spiral.
In my practice I also assist you to be comfortable making choices and decisions that are true to yourself and in alignment with your values and needs. We work together to resource you to manage yourself and your life with a greater sense of positive mastery and enjoyment.
Often people feel embarrassed and ashamed that they cannot overcome depression without help. However as you come to better understand yourself and the nature of your depression these feelings can usually be quite quickly relieved. It makes good sense to do what works and seeking treatment is a positive, wise and effective step.
While you are in the grip of depression it is very hard to imagine feeling happy and in control. With the right help and support you can reclaim your power to make the changes that will free you from depression.