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Depression 101: What it is, It’s Forms, What Triggers It and How to Cope with It



Millions of people all over the world struggle with depression. Although no one is quite sure what causes it, there are a number of symptoms and types of depression that are recognized by psychologists. For those who struggle with depression, know that there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to improve this difficult situation.

What Is Depression?

Most people have feelings of despair or hopelessness at some point during their lives. Sometimes this is triggered by the death of a loved one or another traumatic event. However, depressive disorder is characterized by feelings of joylessness and hopelessness that are persistent over a long period of time. Other symptoms are also associated with this condition, including crying spells, overeating, and experiencing a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

The Many Forms of Depression

Psychologists and psychiatrists have classified into a number of different types. These range in terms of severity and duration depending on the individual. The following are a few types of depression that are commonly diagnosed.

Major Depressive Disorder is what most people think of when thinking of depression. Someone is diagnosed with this condition when he or she experiences depression symptoms most of the time for a minimum duration of two weeks. It can be further divided into recurrent or single episodes, depending on how often the individual experiences bouts of depression.

Dysthymia is typically a mild case of depression. However, it is quite persistent. Those who receive this diagnosis experience symptom on most days for two years or more.

The seasonal affective disorder is where an individual suffers from episodes of depression during seasonal changes. Generally, people experience this more often during winter months when the weather is dreary.

These are just a few common forms of depression. More information can be found about these categories of depressive disorder in the DSM or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which is used for diagnosing mental health disorders in North America.

Major Triggers of Depression

No one is certain what causes depression. However, there are a number of things that can trigger episodes of depression. Below are a few common life events that can trigger this condition:

Job Loss

Losing a job can trigger episodes of depression. The stress from losing one’s income suddenly can cause feelings of helplessness and despair, and ultimately, can lead to depression. An individual’s self-esteem is also often damaged greatly during this time, which can make matters worse.

Loss of a Loved One

The death of a spouse, family member, friend, or significant other is a difficult and emotionally draining experience. The feelings and behaviors that are commonly associated with grieving are similar to those of depression. As a result, those who are in mourning are more likely to develop depression.

Seasonal Changes

When the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, some people get depressed. Some psychologists believe that this is due to less exposure to light and lower levels of activity. Holidays can also trigger depression, as they often serve as a time of reflection. For some individuals, certain holidays remind them of past failures and feelings of worthlessness.

How to Cope with Depression

Coping with and eventually overcoming depression is challenging. However, it is possible. There are a number of ways to battle depression effectively.


Exercising is one of the most effective ways to start feeling better. For those who are suffering from depression, it can be extremely difficult to get moving. It’s best to start small. Ask a friend to go for a walk around the block. Also, consider joining a sports team or getting a gym membership. Research has shown that regular physical activity is a great way to start feeling better.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Consuming too much junk food can significantly lower one’s mood. The same goes for consuming too much alcohol. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule

Sleeping too much or too little are both symptoms of depression. Establishing a regular sleep schedule can make a big difference for those who are struggling with depression. It is best to go to bed and to wake up at the same time every day.

Reduce Stress

Too much stress can trigger depression or make existing depression worse. Look for ways to cut back on demands. Take a bit of time every day to relax and unwind. Exercising, meditating, reading, and talking with friends are all great ways to relieve stress.

Seek Social Support

Most people who are depressed tend to become somewhat reclusive. However, interacting with others is an excellent way to boost one’s mood. Spending time with family members and friends can positively impact one’s life and make it easier to deal with depression.

Consult a Therapist

Seek professional help if symptoms of depression persist or keep getting worse. Getting professional help is often a worthwhile investment in one’s mental health. Talking with a person who is objective is also a great way to work through issues that may be contributing to one’s depression.

Depression is a challenge that millions of people struggle with. However, it can be overcome. Remember that better times are ahead.