Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Depression

Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of people every day. For many reasons, such as shame and fear, as well as lack of resources, depression can go untreated.  When depression isn’t properly addressed, it can result in needless and increased suffering for those afflicted and their loved ones. Depression may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and exacerbated by external factors such as stress, loss, and disconnection. No matter the cause of depression, there are many effective treatments to improve mood and related symptoms. These include medication like anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), exercise, and life style changes.

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The first step is recognizing the symptoms of depression in yourself or a loved one.

Depression symptoms include low moods for prolonged periods that don’t respond to positive events or change in circumstances.

Other symptoms are:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • frequent thoughts about death or suicide
  • insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much);
  • weight gain/loss without trying
  • feeling worthless/unworthy of love/success etc
  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

What is the cause of depression?

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There are several possible causes of depression. Imbalance in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin might be the cause, suggesting there may well be a genetic link that predisposes some people to develop it while others in similar situations do not. Environmental factors can also be a vulnerability-for example, violence, abuse, or neglect during childhood years could lead to persistant changes in the makeup of the brain that impact mood and emotion regulation. 

Other potential factors include:

  • Unresolved trauma
  • Side effects of medications
  • Substance abuse
  • Illness
  • Brain chemistry

A depression diagnosis can be both frightening and confusing, so where to start?


The treatment that works best for you will depend on your unique physical and psychological needs, personal preference, as well as the severity of depressive symptoms. It is essential to communicate your symptoms openly with a therapist or doctor so that they can help you determine what type of treatment is right for you.  Your provider should be aware of any previous treatments that have been beneficial and concerns you have regarding medications so they assist you in identifying an individualized treatment plan. 

Some depression treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying negative thoughts and how they impact moods

Having depression can feel like you’ll never escape the dark shadow hovering overhead. However, even severe mental illness is treatable and people can recover and move on to live fulfilling, connected and meaningful lives.  CBT is a effective form of talk therapy that teaches people to identify how their thoughts influence their emotions and behaviors, so they can gain mastery of their thoughts and respond to situations more effectively.   

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How can therapy help?

Therapy is a process of understanding oneself and working through issues. Frequently, we can’t see the ways our thoughts affect us until someone points it out for us; this includes depressive thoughts as well! Therapy can help people identify negative beliefs that lead to feelings like hopelessness or anxiety, so they don’t hold power over one’s life anymore – instead, allowing room for new perspectives..