Individuals suffering from low mood or depression have typically been feeling down or depressed on more days than not for a number of weeks.
Characteristic symptoms of depression are chronic feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in activities the person previously enjoyed, a loss of appetite and/or weight, concentration difficulties, and feelings of hopelessness.
Depressed individuals often withdraw from other people and they may experience suicidal thoughts. ‘Clinical’ depression is not the same as grieving after the loss of a loved one through death, separation or divorce. Whereas feelings of grief are time-limited, depression typically lasts longer and can occur in the absence of a significant loss. The occurrence of depression is so common that is has been termed the ‘common cold’ of emotional problems. Research shows that 25% of women and 12% of men will suffer an episode of depression during their lifetime. Unfortunately, the chances of having another episode of depression after the first episode are high.
How depression can affect your life
People who are depressed often spend a lot of time engaging in passive, unrewarding activities, such as watching TV, lying in bed, sleeping, or dwelling on their problems. They may stop caring about their appearance and be hesitant to spend money on themselves or reward themselves in other ways. Marital discord or conflict is frequently a cause or a consequence of depression. Many depressed people are stuck in relationships with people who criticise or hurt them in various ways, and they may feel unable to break out of these relationships. Research has shown that in 50% of couples seeking couple therapy one of the partners suffers from depression.