Sat on the Rocks

Depression: Causes & Treatment Options


What is depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.  Depression is a disorder that may be experienced only once during a specific time period or it may become a life-time disorder.  For most people, depression is episodic meaning that it goes away and returns over time.  Depression can be Mild, Moderate, or Severe.  Severity is determined by trained health care providers who examine the type, frequency, and severity of each individual symptom. Depression can be both the result of and the cause for a 'chemical imbalance' in the brain.  Knowing which neurochemicals are often associated with depression can help you better understand the many treatment options.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports

  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort

  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain

  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame

  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

What are the Causes?

Depression is often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Factors that increase the chance of depression include: 

  • Untreated Anxiety or Stress

  • Abuse (Physical, Sexual, or Emotional)

  • Genetics (Especially having a first-degree relative with this disorder)

  • Unresolved Conflicts with Others

  • Death or Loss

  • Serious Illness

  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse

What are the Treatment Options?

The most common treatment options are:

  • Self-Help 

  • Medication Treatment

  • Talk Therapy

  • Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

  • Behavior Therapy

Treatment options vary by severity and etiology of the disorder.  For example, depression may be caused by low levels of Serotonin in specific regions of the brain.  SSRI medications work by specifically raising patients' serotonin levels.  However, other patients may experience depression with low levels of Dopamine.  In this case, the SSRI medication would be unlikely to help.  Dopamine and Serotonin are not the only Neurotransmitters in play when it comes to depression, but they are two of the most important.  A full understanding of treatment options requires further understanding on how these neurotranmitters work. Because of the complexity of this disease, it is always advised to speak directly to a health care professional for full-treatment options.

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition and is not a replacement for treatment by a healthcare provider.  If your questions haven't been answered, contact Family and Youth Therapy, PLLC directly.