Today depression is one of our main conditions; in fact, it’s the world’s leading disability. Affecting more women than men, it can range from a mild dose of the blues to a serious disorder that may embrace self-harm and may generate suicidal thoughts and actions.

The two main types of depression:

There are two main types of depression.  Endogenous depression stems from biological causes in a person.  It may best be helped by physical forms of treatment.  Reactive depression, as the name suggests, is a reaction to external factors.  The loss of a parent would be an example.  Reactive depression may respond well to psychotherapy and it’s this type of depression that I’m thinking of primarily here.

What Are The Symptoms of Depression?

Sometimes people come for therapy not specifically mentioning depression at all. It may feel more like a general dissatisfaction with life or a lack of fulfilment. Often depression is associated with other symptoms too, such as:

  • Having a flat, depressed and sad mood for much of the day
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Difficulty in concentrating, making decisions and remembering details
  • Not finding enjoyment in anything.
  • Not feeling like talking or socializing
  • Lacking motivation
  • Insomnia (including early waking) or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • A sense of worthlessness and guilt
  • Over-eating or loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Possible thoughts of suicide.

How Do I Know If I Suffer From Depression?

There are various online ‘tests’ for depression that you can do although self-diagnosis can be fraught with problems. It’s advisable to talk to our depression help Surrey specialist. Your GP is also often a good starting point as symptoms may also be due to more than one cause or to a different cause.

People suffering from depression don’t all have the same symptoms. But if some of those in the list of symptoms persist for weeks or months, it might be an indication that you are depressed. They can be also combined with anxiety, struggling at work, indecisiveness, unexplained aches and pains, restlessness and losing interest in sex. Sometimes there may be a sense deep down that one is ‘bad’ and an accompanying tendency to be harsh on oneself.

What Are The Causes of Depression

There’s some evidence of a genetic component to depression. But factors linked to one’s formative years are frequently at work too. In her excellent book Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Nancy McWilliams talks about these and what follows draws on some of her material.

Early loss

The experience of overwhelming and/or repeated loss in childhood is a common preliminary to depression. It may be an obvious loss like the death of a parent or something less concrete like the loss of childhood itself when someone is made to give up natural emotional dependence on a parent before he or she is ready.

Turning against the self in childhood

A child losing a parent through an event like death or divorce may be too young to understand what has happened. They may believe that they themselves caused the parent to go away. That guilt may be heightened in families where a need to be upset about the loss is denied or criticized. Actual or emotional abandonment plus parental criticism can lay the foundations of depression.

The reason why children turn against themselves in this way is that faced with a choice between accepting fear, desertion or uncertainty – which would mean powerlessness – and believing that the cause of their unhappiness is within themselves – which will preserve some control over circumstances – they will choose the latter. People often prefer any suffering to impotence.

Turning against the self also explains why depressed people are often very self-critical. They may have had a parent or other relative whose criticism of them they took in deeply or, as I say, a caregiver who, as children, they believed they drove away. Understandable feelings of anger about the loss are turned inward.
A final cause of depression can be having a depressed parent. A genetic factor might be implicated, but so might a child’s guilt for the normal demands they make on their incapacitated parent. Again, turning against themselves. If you can relate to any of this and believe you are suffering from depression then it is important to get in touch with our depression help Surrey specialist as soon as possible so we can get to the root of the problem.