Updated: Jun 3, 2019
The World Health Organization has called depression a world wide health epidemic and considers it the leading cause of disability world wide. In fact, WHO predicts that by 2030 depression will be the number one global burden of disease. These are just based on the reported cases of depression as there are many cases that go unreported and untreated. Although it is a treatable disease many people don't get diagnosed or get misdiagnosed. Even mild depression impacts work and daily functioning. It impacts focus and concentration. One of the main symptoms that need to be present for depression to be diagnosed it the loss of interest in things that would normally interest you. There is a loss of motivation and meaning for weeks at a time. There are often psycho-social aspects connected to depression such as the lack of adequate supports. Psychologists will work to build inner and outer resources with their clients.
Some of the leading treatments for depression include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). CBT explores negative thought patterns that impact negative feelings which lead to behaviours that support the unhelpful thought patterns. Some examples of negative thought patterns are taking things personally or magnifying the negative aspect of a situation. Once these patterns are discovered they can be worked with and re-framed to thoughts that are more objective and realistic. IPT explores the social context of the person experiencing depression. The underlying tenet of this treatment is that relationships are a major influence to psychological difficulties. Therefore, by addressing these relationships and improving relational skills, as well as disrupting negative cycles of thinking, this treatment has also been found to be effective for depression.
There are people who experience mild, moderate, or severe depression. Mild depressive symptoms might impact a person's motivation, work, school, and relationships. However, moderate to severe depression can be more challenging and often requires the help of medication along with therapy. There is some evidence that for mild to moderate depression, exercise is a powerful cure and can be as powerful as antidepressants for many people that can stick to a long term exercise plan. There is a biology behind depression in terms of the neurotransmitters that impact the mood and exercise definitely helps to bring that biology into balance.
There is also some evidence that diet helps with mood. For instance the Gut and Psychological Syndrome Diet is based on science that links gut health to brain health. Therefore by healing the intestinal flora, the brain comes into balance as well. For instance, serotonin is a major neurotransmitter that regulates mood and is not only produced in the brain but also in the intestines. It makes sense that if the intestines are compromised by unhealthy eating, the brain would also be impacted and compromised.
Ultimately the healing of depression is finding meaning in your life in all of the little things. Look for six little jewels in your day that make you feel appreciation. Try to give yourself 30 seconds to enjoy each of these jewels you find and write them down at the end of the day in your journal. It can be anything from the smile of a child, a tea with a friend, or a blue sky. Working with your thoughts, exercise, diet, relationships, and deeper moments of meaning can really help you find your way through depression. Research also shows that working with a psychologist and receiving treatment to help you navigate your unique challenges is effective for people suffering from depression.