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Natural Health Glossary
Medical Terms, Therapies, Accreditation

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depression
Photo: depression 1. Pushing down; "depression of the space bar on the typewriter";

2. Sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy;

3. A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity;

4. A state of depression and anhedonia so severe as to require clinical intervention;

5. A sunken or depressed geological formation.

Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder. It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions and a side effect of some medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression.

Depression is the mental state of excessive sadness characterized by persistently low mood or extensive loss of pleasure and interest. To be considered a clinical condition, depression symptoms must have a duration of at least 2 weeks and include: decreases or sometimes increases in weight, agitated or sluggish activity, disturbance in sleep and appetite.

Contrast: happiness.

People undergoing clinical depression may have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may also be present.

Depression and psychotherapy

Depression is one of the most common reasons that people seek therapy.

It is a chronic 'down' mood that takes the lustre out of life, and includes feelings of worthlessness and incompetence, physical debility and fatigue, loss of libido, increased irritability, difficulty sleeping, lack of interest in life, poor appetite, increased anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and lack of hope.

Psychotherapy based on dialogue, 'talk therapy' has consistently proven to have the power to alleviate the feelings that often are called 'depressive'.

The roots of depression usually extend from childhood. Often depressed adults have suffered neglect, rejection, or abuse by their parents. In addition they frequently found themselves having to take care of a fragile or needy parent who could not take care of them or their siblings.

In adulthood these people find that they tend to work hard to be good but are never satisfied with their own efforts. The result can be chronic perfectionism, dissatisfaction, morbid introspection, emotional withdrawal from others. Their anger turns inward and takes its toll on their ability to experience happiness or joy in life with others.

Many depressed people feel that they cannot connect with other human beings in an intimate and meaningful way. Their lives are missing the warmth, affection, trust or support that they need. They feel empty, weak, helpless and despairing.

Recovering from depression usually depends on two factors: reaching insight into its causes and experiencing a reliable relationship, first with the therapist, and then with others.

Psychotherapy definition courtesy Toronto Therapy Network.

Related studies, articles, and news items

Find more news and studies on depression here.

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