Depression is a common psychological disorder that is characterized by sad, low, or irritable mood, and physical and cognitive changes that significantly impair an individual’s ability to function in one or more primary areas of life, such as social or occupational function.
It’s important to note that a brief period of sadness is not a mood disorder nor is it necessarily depression. Depression lasts for weeks or longer, and involves low, depressed or flat mood most of the day, nearly every day - along with diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities, including those social or recreational activities that previously have brought joy or happiness. There are also a number of associated cognitive and physiological symptoms, including difficulties with attention/concentration, changes in sleep patterns and appetite/weight, as well as reduced energy levels/fatigue. Individuals with depression may also experience intense feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and recurrent or persistent dark thoughts, including suicidal ideation.
Treatment using evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy, regular exercise, and dietary changes, and medication (if appropriate) can help people with depression to learn how to better manage symptoms and improve the overall quality of their lives.