Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

What is depression?

Depressed Girl

What is depression?

“Snap out of it.” “Just be positive.” “You need to just get over it.” “What do you have to be sad about?” “Stop being lazy.” “Just smile, and you will feel better.”

These are only a few things that people suffering from depression hear. People don’t choose to be depressed, and it is more than being sad or going through a rough time. It is not a sign of weakness or laziness. A depressive disorder is a severe mental health condition that effects millions of adults. It is estimated that almost 7% of the US population has had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

What causes depression?

There is no exact cause of depression; it can be the result of a life crisis, physical illness, or something else. There are several factors believed to contribute to depression:

  • Trauma: Traumatic events can cause changes in how the brain responds to fear and stress, which can lead to depression.
  • Genetics: A family history of depression increases the risk of developing a depressive disorder.
  • Cognitive: Negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem aid in the development of depression.
  • Life circumstances: Relationships, financials situations, marital issues, and other life changes contribute to depression.
  • Biological: Individuals with depression may produce too many or too little neurotransmitters in the brain. Changes in these brain chemicals can be a contributing factor to depression.
  • Other medical conditions: Individuals who have a history of sleep issues, medical illness, chronic pain, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop depression. Some medications can also cause symptoms of depression.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: It is estimated that approximately 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have depression, which can require coordinated treatment for both conditions, as alcohol can worsen symptoms.

What are the symptoms of a depressive disorder?

October 11 is National Depression Screening Day, and a quick and easy screening can help spot the first signs of a serious mental illness that may need further medical evaluation. Depression symptoms can be different for each person, but for most, it changes their daily functioning and usually for more than two weeks.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
  • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

The effects of depression are emotional, physical, and mental. It can take its toll on someone’s entire body, especially if left untreated.



How can I help someone with depression?

Depression can be overwhelming. When someone is depressed we often don’t know what to say or do, and we may feel confused, but your support is significant.

  • Educate yourself: One of the most important things you can do is learn about depression, the symptoms, and treatment options. Learning more will help you understand what they are experiencing.
  • Be there: It is essential to be present for someone who is struggling – give them a shoulder to cry on or just listen as they talk. Reassure them that they are not alone.
  • Be patient: Patience is a pivotal part of support. Let them know it doesn’t matter how long it takes for them to recover; you will be there to support them.
  • Don’t minimize their pain: Keep in mind your loved one has a mental health disorder, it is not a weakness or personality flaw.
  • Offer to help: Depression can make even the simplest tasks difficult. Everyday activities like cleaning house, grocery shopping, or laundry can be overwhelming. Pitch in and help where you can.
  • Take threats seriously: Suicide is a risk of depression. If your loved one makes threats to commit suicide, take them seriously. Do not leave them alone and seek help immediately.
  • Encourage treatment: Your loved one may not realize they need help. They may think their feelings are normal or they are ashamed to seek treatment. Talk to them about your concerns and express your willingness to help.

How is a depressive disorder treated?

Many of those suffering have a full remission with effective treatment, however, as few as 35% seek treatment. People with depression often will not seek treatment because they don’t believe it is serious and they can take care of themselves or it is viewed as a weakness to seek help. The possibility of relapse is high for those with a depressive disorder, and multiple interventions and continued support is needed to ensure long-term success.

At Lifeskills South Florida, we work with our clients to create an individualized treatment plan based on the client’s specific needs, causes, and symptoms. We use a combination of interventions, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat depressive disorders.  This is a solution-focused, evidence-based treatment approach emphasizes changing behavior by applying specific skills. Clients work collaboratively with their therapist to identify and solve problems that have prevented them from effective functioning.

We use a holistic approach to treatment that incorporates elements of mindfulness, meditation, and integrated primary care. Our program provides clients with the tools and coping behaviors needed for complete recovery.

If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of depression, Lifeskills South Florida can help.  Call our admissions team at 954-953-1742 or complete our contact form for more information.


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