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What is it?  |  Causes | Symptoms  | RiskTreatment |

What is Depression?

Understanding how depression differs from sadness:

Every one of us feel sad sometimes, but these feelings usually pass after a few days. Depression is usually thought of as a problem of mood, it can also affect thinking, memory, self-esteem, physiological processes, social activities, and the ability to function. Depression may be mild having minimal impact on functioning of the individual, or it may be severe affecting most of the activities. An episode may be brief or it may last for many months and may recur.

What causes depression?

Depression can be caused due to life events, thinking styles, biological factors and behavior.

Life events – such as death of a close member in the family or friend, business loss can result in depression. However , it is normal to feel low in these situations and these feelings usually pass with time but sometimes they stay longer if they are unresolved and becomes problematic.

Thinking styles – the way we think and interpret about  things and events can also lead to feel depressed

There is no single cause of depression. However, a combination of the following factors may cause depression.

Biological factors such as family history of depression, malfunctions in the brain, imbalances in specific brain chemicals and endocrine disorders;  Psychological factors such as stressful life events (death of a loved one, loss of job), pessimism (negative thinking), emotional responses triggered by trauma ( physical abuse , sexual abuse) contribute to depression in an individual.


An individual with depression may report changes in their physiological and psychological functioning.

Physiological symptoms

  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Indigestion
  • Over eating or eating very less
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sleep disturbances – sleeping too much or not being to sleep
  • Sexual difficulties – loss of libido
  • Slowness in activities
  • Complaints of aches and pains

Psychological symptoms

  • Increased irritability or dissatisfaction
  • Decreased interest or participation in usual activities
  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Deterioration in work performance or in the family
  • Having suicidal ideas
  • Hopelessness about future –
  • Loss of confidence and self esteem

Who is at risk?

Individuals who have experienced trauma in their early years such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, the loss or death of a close one during childhood, individuals with very low self-esteem or confidence, people who ruminate (repeatedly thinking about unpleasant experiences or dwelling on difficulties that distress him) and individuals with significant history of depression in the family are prone to develop depression when these factors interact with environmental factors. For instance: an individual who has lost his parents in an accident when he was young may develop depression when he lost his job.

How can depression be treated?

Individuals with mild depression respond well to counseling and practical problem solving, but severe symptoms of depression usually require medication. It is proved that a combination of both psychological treatment and medication is more effective than either of the one alone.