The following is not meant as a comprehensive article on depression, but includes some of my observations and reflections about depression based on my clinical work:

Sadness is a normal part of life, but depression gets in the way of our lives or limits our ability to reach our potential. Sadness comes and goes. Depression is something that creates a sense of “being stuck.

Depression is usually characterized by depressed mood, low energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, lack of concentration or indecisiveness, significant changes in appetite or weight, and lack of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities.

Depression not only impacts a person’s mood, but their thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs about the world and about themselves. A person who is depressed not only experiences low mood, but sees multiple negative “facts” about the world and themselves. Hence, depression can set up a self-perpetuating cycle, where a person’s negative mood, thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs add to each other and trigger each other endlessly.

Depression functions much like a filter that adds a negative tint to all aspects of a person’s experience. However, the filter of depression is close to impossible for the depressed person to see. The person who is depressed is pretty convinced that what they see are “facts” and not life viewed through the filter of depression. It is usually only after the depression has lifted that people recognize this issue.

A depressed person often has difficulty seeing and more often enjoying their own positive qualities and personal strengths. In certain cases depression may not manifest in the form of depressed mood, but as agitation, irritability, and a short temper. This form of depression occurs both in adults and children and is at times mistaken for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Most children who are depressed experience agitation rather than depressed mood.

Other than its possible biochemical and genetic underpinnings, depression is often a way of coping, a way of adapting to one’s life circumstances. However, most often, a person who is depressed comes to see themselves as a depressed or depressive person as opposed to a person who has adapted to life by way of a depressive outlook. Therefore, they may not realize that if they let go of their depression they are not actually letting go of an essential part of their being, but a form of coping that they can very well do without.

--Dr. Haleh Stahl

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