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What is depression? How is it treated?

Depression does not look the same in everyone, however, people who are in a depressive episode commonly experience some of the following:

  • Depressed mood, sadness, or an “empty” feeling, or appearing sad or tearful to others

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed

  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, or significant weight gain (for example, more than 5% of body weight in a month)

  • Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping

  • Restlessness or irritation (irritable mood may be a symptom in children or adolescents too), or feelings of “dragging”

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide*


The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a measure used to assess depression.  It is broadly considered valid and reliable and can be completed in just a couple minutes.  Click here to take the BDI

Therapy for depression is flexible and may depend on the duration and severity of symptoms, the cause or origins of the depression, and individual preferences.  Some people have a very clear sense of what triggered their depression while others cannot pinpoint a cause and may even feel that, on the surface, they have nothing to be depressed about.  In any case, therapy will not only address depression symptoms directly, it will also create a context for understanding your depression.  We may seek to answer some of the following questions:


  • what are the external factors, past and present, that have contributed to your depression;

  • what beliefs support your depressive reactions;

  • how do you view yourself in relation to others;

  • what strategies do you use to manage stress; 

  • what is your relationship to your emotions (for e.g., how do you experience and express emotions); and,

  • what are your "go-to" emotions and what emotions do you avoid

The goal is not only to help you feel better in the immediate but also to build resilience and substantially decrease the chances of future depressions.


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