Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, counselling, or therapy, is the first-line treatment for symptoms of depression. Experiencing flat, low or sad moods is a normal part of the human experience, however when these moods feel very intense or persist for long periods of time, and particularly when they interfere with one’s ability to function at school, work, or in relationships, this is clinical depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires treatment, and there is a range of effective therapy treatments that health professionals can use to help.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad for weeks at a time for no obvious reason
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Experiencing a lack of joy from activities that you once loved
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of low worth
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Irritable mood
- Feeling unmotivated
- Feeling tired all the time
- Changes in sleep, appetite or weight
- Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope
There is no single cause of depression, instead there are multiple factors that are associated with the development of symptoms. It is a complex issue that develops in very complex and individual ways. Significant life stressors that continue over time such as chronic stress, chronic unemployment or abusive relationships, are associated with depression. Recent life events such as marital breakdown or unexpected job loss, family history of depression, chronic pain or drug and alcohol use, are also linked to depression. Some personality factors such as high criticalness, perfectionism, shyness, anxiety or pessimism can increase one’s risk to developing symptoms.
Psychotherapy can assist people to identify the life events and stressors that trigger or contribute to their symptoms, and find more adaptive and healthy ways to deal with these now and into the future. Therapy can provide people with understanding, information, emotional support, and also useful tools to cope.