What is depression?


While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason.

Depression is more than just a low mood — it’s a serious condition that has an impact on both physical and mental health.


What causes depression?

While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, a number of things can be associated with its development. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors.

Some factors that might be associated with the development of depression include:

  • Serious physical health problems
  • Abusive or uncaring relationships
  • Family history of depression
  • Past experiences
  • Personality factors (e.g. self-critical or negative, worrying a lot, being a perfectionist)
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Changes in the levels or activity of certain chemicals in the brain — particularly serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.


Everyone is different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to a person developing depression. It’s important to note that you can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.


Signs and symptoms of depression

  • Not going out anymore
  • Not getting things done at work/school
  • Withdrawing from close family and friends
  • Relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • Not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of worthlessness, failure or thoughts that life is not worth living.

Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in the things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.

If you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, consider our counselling and psychology services.

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