By Depressionhurts.ca, a complete website of resources for depression:
Depression may be caused by one factor alone or a combination of factors including biological, psychological and environmental (linked to social or family environment) factors.
Depression is a medical illness which affects the brain which in turn affects the rest of the body. Depression can affect anyone: children, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged adults and older people. 20% of adults will have suffered from depression at some point in their lifetimes.
Everyone feels down from time to time. However, with depression, these feelings are more severe and occur nearly every day for two weeks or more.
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or numb
- Restlessness, irritability, or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Less interest or participation in activities normally enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
- Low energy and feeling tired all the time
- Changes in appetite or weight (eating more or less)
- Change in sleep pattern (sleeping more or less)
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Self destructive behavior, loss of control, or uncontrolled rage
- May include headaches, aches, pains, digestive problems, dizziness or lightheadedness.
We are not certain what causes depression. One of the predominant theories proposes that depression is caused by an imbalance of naturally occurring substances called neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord.
Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters in the brain that appear to be involved in the symptoms of depression.
Individuals are affected by outside events differently. Each person’s thoughts determine how he or she will experience life, which can affect whether or not they become depressed.
The way we think about things and view the world often emerges in childhood. For example, a strict and severe upbringing in which negative comments and criticism predominate can shape the way one views the world, in most likely a negative way.
It is not surprising, therefore, that these ways of looking at the world reinforce the negative effect of difficult situations in life, predisposing people to emotional suffering.
Depression can often be triggered by very stressful life situations or other factors such as:
- The death of a loved one, a move, a divorce, financial difficulties or job loss.
- Social isolation.
- Periods of relationship conflict, whether marital or family-related.
- Demanding work or a stressful workplace.
- Health issues, especially when the person has a chronic health problem.
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to getting better and moving forward is the depression itself. For example, a depressed person often removes themselves from the presence of comforting and encouraging loved ones or ceases to participate in activities of personal interest as result of being depressed, which might further contribute to their condition.
Alcohol and Suicide
When things get tough, when it’s hard to cope, when feeling becomes too much – places where we all have been – the need to make it through becomes eminent. As this is something we all can relate to in one way or another, it should be easy to understand why you or someone you love has turned to alcohol to soothe or numb the pain. After all, it’s a quick and readily available solution, right? Well, quick and readily available – yes. A solution – no.
Canadian initiative, based out of the Univ. of British Columbia, develops resources, services, and programs to improve the mental health and well-being of men. Learn about men’s depression, including symptoms, triggers, risk factors and more.
Read this resource by Barry Greenwald, Ph.D. that points out the relationship between depression and suicide and provides some suggestions for ways of dealing with depression, suicidal preoccupations, and suicide in progress.
University of Michigan’s Brief Diagnostic Questionnaire on Depression
This checklist is taken out of the book: Real Men Do Cry: A Quarterback’s Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression and Surviving Suicide Loss by Eric Hipple, former NFL Quarterback for the Detroit Lions (2008). This is the checklist he found at U of Michigan Depression Center, and wished that he had this checklist of symptoms of depression for himself in high school and that he knew the signs so that he could have seen them in his own son, Jeff.
Nine-Symptom Checklist for Depression:
For each statement below, insert a number score:
0=never/not at all
2=More than half the days
3=Nearly every day
Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you experienced or been bothered by any of the following:
1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things
2. Feeling down, depressed or hopeless
3. Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
4. Feeling tired or having little energy
5. Poor appetite or overeating
6. Feeling bad about yourself, feeling that you are a failure, or feeling that you have let yourself or a loved one down
7. Trouble concentrating on things such as reading or watching television
8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, or being so fidgety or restless that you move around a lot more than usual
9. Thinking that you would be better off dead or that you want to hurt yourself in some way
If you scored 1 or more for any of the above statements so far, how difficult have these problems made if for you to do your work, take care of things at home or perform at school?
0= Not difficult at all
1= Somewhat difficult
Interpreting Scores: How to know if you may need help:
If your score is 4 or less: May be experiencing tough times but may not need professional treatment.
5-14 Should consider speaking with a professional, your doctor, a counselor at school or work, therapist, or other mental health specialist.
15 or more: May be experiencing clinical depression and likely would benefit from a thorough check up and possibly antidepressant medication and
therapy. (U of Michigan’s brief diagnostic questionnaire on depression).