Of all mental health problems, depression is the most common, so much so that it has been referred to as the “common cold” of mental disorders. As common as it is, depression can have a devastating effect on individuals and their families, as well as having a major impact on society. It is estimated that about 5 percent of the population are clinically depressed but it is estimated that as many as one person in three may experience an episode of depression during the course of their lifetime.
Of all mental health problems, depression is the most common
Depressed mood is usually the central feature although a number of other symptoms are common in depression. These include a loss of enjoyment, interest and energy; disturbed appetite, sleep and libido; agitation or slowing of movement; poor concentration and mental slowing; negative thinking and hopelessness; feelings of guilt or worthlessness; and thoughts of death or suicide. Depressive disorders are categorized in terms of severity and duration of symptoms, and the psychological causes of depression are far from straightforward. Stress that will trigger depression in one individual may have barely any impact on another.
The biological aspects regarding depression can range from physical illnesses to genetic predispositions, as well as a strong genetic component associated with the more severe mood disorders. Theories also exist concerning the involvement the neurotransmitters of the brain itself, so it is therefore imperative to consult with a physician. It is the role of the mental health professional to identify and restructure maladaptive behavior patterns. By client’s identifying and alleviating negative beliefs and perceptions they can develop new abilities to increase self-efficacy when faced with difficult life situations.
Contributed by Kristen UnKauf, PhD
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