Updated: July 23, 2022

Life is challenging, so it’s normal to feel low at times.  If however, you’re feeling sad, apathetic, and hopeless for a prolonged period, you may be depressed, and this impacts functioning.  And although depression is a natural response to difficulties, it can be treated.

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What Is Depression?

Depression is the most common mental health problem around the world and rates of depression have increased gradually over the years.  It is a state of being and impacts almost everyone at some point in their lives, and symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe in some cases.  Although we cannot ‘see’ depression, we may be able to notice its impact on others.  For instance sufferers will often feel down, sad, and hopeless, and be unable to experience pleasure and enjoyment because they lose motivation and interest for usual activities, and toward life.


They may feel guilty and experience feelings of low self worth, and disappointment in themselves, and in severe cases, a desire to stop living.  Depression can also impact sleep, appetite, cognition, affect, and energy levels.  For these reasons depression can affect how capable a person is in all aspects of life, including work or studies, hobbies, and socialising and relationships.  People may start to withdraw emotionally and physically; this may stem from an instinctive need to heal within a place that feels safe, and avoid what does not.  But self-isolation only makes things worse.  If left untreated, depression can become life threatening.

What Are The Symptoms?

Affect Changes

Depression can change how we move or speak.  We may become slower, such that others have noticed.  Or, we might be restless and fidgety and move faster and more than usual.


Often people will start to lose interest in things that were once enjoyable to them.  This is because they no longer feel able to take pleasure in things.

Changes In Appetite

Depression impacts appetite in different ways for different people.  Some people will turn to food for comfort, and overeat.  Whereas others don’t feel hungry and eat very little.  This is why some people will gain weight, and others will lose it when feeling depressed.

Cognitive Impairment

Due to the impact depression has on hormone levels, fatigue, sleep , and appetite, it is normal to experience trouble with cognition.  This may mean you cannot concentrate on things, like reading, watching TV, or even following a conversation.


People often experience tiredness, fatigue, and a lack of energy because of how depression impacts sleep and affects the body’s production of hormones.

Low Mood

Depression can start of subtly, as low mood, which is quite normal at times in life.  However, when this continues, or gets worse, people can start to feel down, depressed, or hopeless all of the time.

Low Self-Esteem

Depression can start to chip away at self-esteem.  We may start to blame ourselves and feel guilty about letting others down.  This can create feelings of disappointment because of our self-perceived failure, making us feel bad about ourselves, and more depressed.

Rumination & Suicidal Ideation

Depression can make people experience negative thoughts and dwell on them, making them feel worse.  In some cases, people can start to experience thoughts of self-harm and of being better off dead, they may want to end their life due to life feeling too hard to live, and feelings of hopelessness.

Sleep Issues

Depression affects sleep in different ways.  Some people experience insomnia, and cannot fall asleep.  Others may be able to fall asleep but wake up at night.  Whereas some people may sleep more than usual.  Often the sleep experienced does not feel restful, even if you are oversleeping.

What Causes Depression?

As with other mental health issues, there are multiple factors that can cause depression.  One’s family history (early life experiences), or genetic inheritance (especially if a parent or sibling has experienced it), or both, mean people can become overly self-critical and negative, developing low self-esteem.  This kind of personality is more vulnerable to developing depression.

Stressful life events can increase the likelihood of depression, especially if individuals stop socialising and try to work through things alone.  This impacts our need to feel connected with others, so loneliness also increases the risk of developing depression.

Due to hormonal fluctuations after giving birth, and the changes to body and life after a child is born, women can experience postnatal depression.

Some people will turn to substances as a way to cope with life (e.g., ‘functioning alcoholic‘).  But substances impact brain chemistry and with long term use, increase tolerance, so we need more of the chemical to achieve the effect.  This further affects brain chemistry and means we do not deal with the issues that lead us to use substances.  Studies have shown that both alcohol and cannabis increase the risk of depression

If you have a long term illness or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or have suffered a head injury (even a minor one in some cases), you are at increased risk of developing depression due to the biological impact these can have on other aspects of ourselves (e.g., tiredness, lack of interest in sex).

Other mental health problems can increase the likelihood of developing depression, for example if you have unresolved trauma, or experience an anxiety or personality disorder, you may become depressed because of the difficulties and impact of the original condition.

How Phinity Can Help

In order to understand the context, we will start by having an Initial Psychological Assessment.  This first information gathering session allows us to take a fuller picture of what your life looks like, and will include information about any diagnoses you may have, your family situation, the history of the problem, and its impact on you now.  We may also use some diagnostic questionnaires, if you agree.

Once we have a good initial understanding, we will wish to learn about your goals in more detail.  After this we can talk you through some therapeutic options and make recommendations for the course of treatment. Each subsequent session will aim to help you understand the nature of the problem, and how it is maintained, and what could help to get you closer to your short and long term therapeutic goals, toward recovery.

More than this, we place a keen focus on the therapeutic relationship, as this is proven to be just as important as the approach we use.  We also aim to provide you with understanding and learning about yourself, and some ways in which you can recognise signs, and minimise the chance of a lapse in the future.

What Causes Depression?How Phinity Can Help


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