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Depression, also known as ‘depressive disorder’ or ‘clinical depression’, is one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting an estimated 26 per cent of adults in the United States alone. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Moreover, depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and behave. While it is a mental health disorder, depression can also significantly impact your physical health and well-being.

People experience depression in various ways; for instance, it can interfere with their daily functioning, affecting their work, home, and social life. Depression can also impact relationships and exacerbate chronic health problems.

Depression can cause profound mood changes, marked by persistent sadness, diminished interest in previously enjoyable activities and other ‘depressed mood’ symptoms that interfere with your ability to function. 

These mood changes can be intense and last for a prolonged period, significantly impacting your quality of life.

Depression is a complex disorder that affects each person differently and has many symptoms, from mild to much more severe.

It is typically triggered by a combination of factors, including family history, genetics, unresolved trauma, physical or mental illness and stress.

If left untreated, depression can lead to various mental, emotional, physical and behavioural problems. 

Substance addiction frequently co-occurs with depression (often called dual diagnosis), as people may begin to self-medicate to ‘escape from’ or ‘numb’ distressing symptoms.

Fortunately, depression is a treatable mental health disorder with high success rates for lasting recovery. 

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you should seek professional help to receive the treatment needed to recover and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life.

Here, we will explore depression, its symptoms and effective treatments that can help.

What are the causes of depression?

Research into the causes of depression is ongoing. However, current research shows there is no single cause for depression and that the condition is not simply the result of a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain.

Although there is no definitive cause, studies show that depression typically results from a combination of factors and various triggers, including:

  • Genetics.
  • Brain chemistry imbalance.
  • Medical illness. Chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart attack, cancer, insomnia and chronic pain conditions can make people more susceptible to depression.
  • Substance use, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Hormone levels. Changes in female hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, perimenopause, postpartum period or menopause all increase your risk of depression.
  • Specific personality traits and characteristics.
  • Poor lifestyle choices that include a lack of healthy nutrition, chronic stress, substance use, lack of exercise, limited sunlight, and insufficient sleep can increase your risk of depression.
  • Circumstances (such as prolonged exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, and bullying or poverty, which can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, making them more susceptible to depression).
  • Stressful or traumatic life events.

Depression is a complex mental health disorder with various possible causes. It is understood that a combination of factors is involved in how people develop depression, and each individual is affected differently.

What are the different types of depression?

Depression can take various forms, including:

People with MDD often have difficulty functioning as they ordinarily would, which can include symptoms such as a loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, low or depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, constant worry and anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. 

Major depressive disorder can occur just once in a lifetime, but it is common for individuals to experience several episodes during their lifespan.

Persistent depressive disorder is a type of chronic depression, with symptoms lasting two years or more but interrupted with brief periods of respite where only mild symptoms (or no symptoms) are experienced. 

Some symptoms of PDD can include sadness, emptiness or feeling down, tiredness or lack of energy, low self-esteem or feeling like you’re incapable of doing certain things.

In addition, you may have trouble focusing on tasks or making decisions, quickly become annoyed, impatient or angry, and experience problems getting things done well and on time. 

Whilst the symptoms may not be as severe as major depressive disorder, they can be long-lasting and intense.

  • Bipolar disorder – also called manic-depression. Most people with bipolar disorder will experience episodes of major depression as part of the condition. 

Common symptoms of bipolar disorder include emotional highs or extreme high mood, known as mania or hypomania, which can involve euphoria or irritability with periods of stabilised mood in between. 

When a person with bipolar disorder becomes depressed, they may feel hopeless or sad and lose interest in activities they ordinarily enjoy. It is common for individuals with bipolar disorder to oscillate between the mania or hypomania phase and depression.

These mood swings may affect a person’s energy, sleep patterns, judgement, behaviour and ability to think clearly and rationally. In severe cases, bipolar episodes may include symptoms of psychosis.

  • Postpartum depression  this type of depression can affect some women after childbirth and can be triggered by hormonal changes. 

While mood changes are common during these times, the symptoms of depression are far more severe and may last for more extended periods. Postpartum depression is usually a short-term disorder lasting several weeks or months.

The condition tends to be more common in women aged 18–35, but anyone can be affected. 

Postpartum depression symptoms vary but can include mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, sadness, anxiety, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, irritability and concentration issues.

While postpartum depression can affect any woman, those who lack support or have a history of depression are at increased risk of developing the condition.

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)  PMDD causes similar symptoms to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, symptoms related to mood are significantly more pronounced, such as sadness, mood swings, crying, severe anxiety, stress, hopelessness and irritability.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can cause depression, and severe mood changes approximately a week or two before the menses and tends to resolve once menstruation begins.

Studies show that PMDD is more prevalent in women aged 15–35, typically lasting several years or until the cessation of menstrual cycles (menopause). In addition, a person’s family history may play a significant role in the development of PMDD.

  • Psychotic depression  can include all the symptoms of major depression and a few of its own. Psychotic depression refers to major depressive disorder with symptoms of psychosis, a specific presentation of depression. 

A person with psychotic depression experiences psychosis symptoms during an episode of depression, including delusions, hallucinations, and psychomotor impairment. 

Studies show that major depressive disorder with psychosis affects approximately 10–19 per cent of people with MDD. Treatment for psychosis depression usually includes therapy and medication.

  • Situational depression – is typically a short-term, stress-related type of depression that can develop after a traumatic event or significant change in a person’s life. 

These events may include the death of a loved one, problems at work, divorce or separation, having a baby, moving house, and contracting a medical illness. 

Situational depression can magnify the intensity of traumatic or stressful life events, causing severe impairment or disruption to a person’s life. 

Common symptoms of situational depression can include feelings of hopelessness, constant anxiety or worry, lack of appetite, changes in sleep patterns, a lack of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies, trouble performing daily tasks, avoiding social activities and interactions, and thoughts of suicide or suicidal attempts.

Situational depression may result from being unable to accept what has happened and/or adapt to new and significant life changes. Major depressive disorder can develop if this type of depression is left untreated.

Fortunately, all forms of depression are treatable. 

You do not have to suffer in silence or try to manage the symptoms alone. There are specific treatment programs available to address every type of depression, which can include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

If you or someone you know has any of the depression symptoms mentioned above, you should consult a mental health professional who can help. 

Early treatment can help you avoid some of the long-term effects of depression and will result in better treatment outcomes for many.

What are the common signs and symptoms of depression?

People are affected by depression in various ways, causing a wide range of physical, mental, emotional and behavioural symptoms that can range from very mild to severe, including:


  • Increased fatigue and/or consistently low energy levels.
  • Upset stomach and digestive problems.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or oversleeping.
  • Decreased pain tolerance, resulting in various unexplained aches and pains or physical health complaints.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • A change in appetite, including weight changes.


  • Persistent anxious or worried thoughts.
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or low self-esteem.
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly or making logical decisions.
  • Assuming the worst about everything and believing the worst will happen in any given situation.
  • Impaired memory or trouble remembering things or recalling events.
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.


  • Angry outbursts, including severe frustration or irritability.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities, such as sports and hobbies.
  • Persistent sadness, tearfulness, hopelessness or emptiness.
  • Constant feelings of guilt or worthlessness, which can include fixating on past failures.
  • An inability to regulate your feelings or emotions, such as experiencing profound mood swings for no apparent reason.


  • Avoiding social events and interactions with others (self-isolation).
  • An inability to perform tasks or manage responsibilities at home and/or at work.
  • A severe lack of motivation – e.g. neglecting responsibilities, hobbies and interests.
  • Avoidance or risky behaviours, such as engaging in alcohol or drug abuse to escape or numb your feelings.
  • Self-harming or suicidal behaviour.

Some medical conditions may share similar symptoms to depression, such as vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems and brain tumours, so it is essential to rule out potential medical causes before diagnosing depression.

In addition, it is also critical for you to remember that everyone experiences symptoms of depression from time to time. However, to receive a diagnosis of depression, your symptoms must be persistently present over an extended timeframe.

Risk factors

Studies show that common risk factors for depression include social, medical or biochemical components, but they can also be due to a person’s circumstances or other environmental factors. 

In addition, other risk factors for depression can include:

  • Gender – Studies show that the prevalence rates of major depression are twice as high in women than in men.
  • Genetics – Having a family history of depression can increase your risk of developing the condition.
  • Substance use – Research shows that around 21 per cent of people with a drug or alcohol use disorder also have depression.
  • Physical illnesses – There is a strong link between depression and chronic health conditions. For example, studies show that around 1 in 4 cancer patients also have depression. In addition, those with heart conditions are at double the risk of having depression than those who don’t. 

Can depression be treated?

Depression is a treatable condition, and the severity of symptoms can be significantly reduced with professional treatment and support.

Treatment depends on the type of depression, the causes, the symptoms, the severity and whether you have any other co-occurring disorders. 

Moreover, treatment programs for depression will usually include a combination of various approaches and methods designed to meet your individual needs and preferences, such as:


Psychotherapy or talk therapy is effective for treating individuals with depression since these treatments teach new, healthier ways of thinking and behaving.

In addition, talk therapy aims to address and change maladaptive thoughts and behaviours that may lead to destructive coping mechanisms, such as substance use and other reckless behaviours that may lead to or worsen depression.

Some of the most common treatments for depression include the following:

The above therapies can be delivered in several ways, including through individual, group, family and couples therapy. They can also be offered online or in person.

Complementary therapies

Other therapies may be used alongside psychotherapy to alleviate depression symptoms, including meditation, art therapy, music therapy, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi.


Antidepressants are the primary medical treatment for depression. 

These medications can help treat depression but often take 2–4 weeks before a person experiences any effects. Those taking prescribed medication for depression must do so under strict medical supervision and guidance, as side effects are likely.

In addition, a combination of antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics may be needed for more severe forms of depression.

Lifestyle changes

A healthy diet, good sleep, regular exercise, avoiding self-medication, relaxation training, and attending self-help groups can positively impact long-term recovery for those with depression. 

In addition, studies show that making lifestyle changes can help with the symptoms of depression, allowing you to get a better handle on your condition and lead a happier, healthier, fulfilling life.

These lifestyle changes include:

  • Setting healthy boundaries with family, friends and colleagues.  
  • Avoiding alcohol and other substances.
  • Adding supplements to your daily routine under the guidance of your GP or doctor, such as vitamin B (essential for brain health) and vitamin D (linked to brain, heart and bone health). 
  • Keeping a journal or diary – writing your thoughts down can help you track your progress, allowing you to reflect on your recovery journey. Writing your thoughts and emotions down on paper can also declutter your mind, helping you to make clear, rational decisions.

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating depression, all forms of depression are treatable. With professional support and care, the right treatment plan can be found to meet your individual needs, goals and preferences.

Depression treatment at Centres for Health and Healing

Centres for Health and Healing provide personalised, holistic treatment programs for all types of depression, shaped around your individual preferences and therapeutic needs.

Our highly-trained and passionate staff provides the highest care and support to guarantee deep transformational healing and lasting recovery.

We also ensure a complete aftercare plan is in place following treatment to provide the necessary tools to support your long-term recovery, with comprehensive follow-up treatments and support available to each client.

Our individualised treatment approach considers all the parts that must be unpacked and worked through to ensure you get the most out of your recovery, including trauma-informed treatment and other therapies.

In addition, our client-centric approach blends various treatment approaches and modalities which, when brought together, creates lasting healing and recovery, where the goal is to treat the ‘whole’ person, not just their symptoms.

We are here to advise, guide and support you every step of the way through your recovery and beyond.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, please get in touch with our friendly treatment centre in Ontario for further information and support. 

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