Depression is not easy to define, because not everyone experiences it in the same way. Some people get irritable, while others become gloomy and withdrawn. Some people cry a lot, often at unexpected times. Still others trudge through life, stoic and emotionless. Depression can bring physical aches and pains for some, and a loss of life’s meaning (and even suicidal thoughts) for others.
Depression is a normal and adaptive response to feeling overwhelmed by difficult events or circumstances in life. Losing a loved one, for example, or failing to get an important promotion. This kind of depression is a natural and temporary adjustment, a kind of “whoa-a-a” suspension of life that slows us down and gives us pause to incorporate new circumstances and directions.
When depression becomes too severe (acute depression) or too prolonged (chronic depression), professional help is appropriate and advised. It may or may not involve an imbalance in normal brain chemistry. The good news is, depression is highly treatable. It responds well to psychotherapy, medication, and better yet (research tells us), a combination of both.
If you’re stuck in a depressive pattern, get treatment now. There is no reason to suffer when help is so available. Most people report some relief just from the first counseling session, and increased improvement with new ways of thinking and understanding.
Although they differ considerably from Major Depression (described above), there are other mental health diagnoses that involve depression as the main symptom. See also: