What is depression?

Depression affects between 12-15% of people at some point in their lifetime. It can include everything from Major Depressive Disorder to depressive episodes in Bipolar Disorder to Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it can also just be feeling low for an extended period of time without a formal diagnosis. You may have biological, psychological and social factors that are contributing to your low mood.

Depression can come along during various points in our lives. Sometimes it comes during or after pregnancy – referred to as perinatal depression, it can come during great periods of transition or change in our lives, rates can be higher after the diagnosis of an illness. Some people have a harder time identifying the onset of their depression, which is completely normal.

There are many symptoms of depression. Common ones include:

  • Experiential avoidance of once enjoyable activities
  • Feelings of sadness and crying
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty sleeping and increased fatigue
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If a few or more of these symptoms resonate with you, know that depression is treatable.

Medication can be helpful for many people with depression, depending on the severity of it. Some people prefer not to take medication, and many get the most benefit from a combination of medication and counselling, as counselling provides skills and action planning to help you get through this time in your life.

Counselling at Westwood includes the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for depression. In ACT for depression we focus on:

  • Contacting the present moment, because often depression takes us to the past.
  • Creating distance between ourselves and our thoughts of guilt, worthlessness, death, etc.
  • Accepting our emotions of sadness and guilt as real but passing experiences.
  • Connecting with our values, as we often ignore them when we feel depressed.
  • Engaging in activities that we do enjoy and action planning to bring more of these activities to our lives.
  • Noticing what we are doing, thinking, and feeling in any given moment.