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What is depression?
Feeling sad or ‘down in the dumps’ is normal to experience, but for some these feelings of intense sadness can last for days and weeks, which at times lead to symptoms of depression. The World Health Organization (WHO 2015), states that depression is one of the most common medical disorders worldwide.

What are the symptoms of depression?
According to the DSM-5, symptoms of depression consist of continual sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, feelings of fatigue, helplessness, worthlessness, as well as loss of sleep and noticeable weight loss or weight gain (WHO 2015). Depression may be so severe that it can put one’s life at risk. Up to 15% of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder, are more likely to attempt suicide and die as a result (Harrington 2013, pg. 234). If a person has experienced being majorly depressed once before, they have an 80% chance of relapse. One variable that may help prevent relapse is adopting healthier coping skills.

What are different types of depression?
According to the DSM-5, there are different types of depression:

  • Major depression
  • Chronic depression
  • Bipolar depression
  • Seasonal depression (SAD or seasonal affective disorder)
  • Psychotic depression
  • Postpartum depression
  • Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD)
*Please note that some of the disorders listed above are now listed as specifiers in the DSM-5.

How does someone develop depression?
Depression is a disorder that can develop from multiple etiologies including genetics and environmental influences. One may be genetically disposed, but it typically takes a stressor or life event to trigger the onset of symptoms. This theory is better known as the Diathesis-Stress Model.

What is the simplified model of Beck’s Triad Theory of Depression?
Aaron T. Beck is one of the most well known psychiatrists of his time and his work remains highly researched to this day (Hunsley and Lee 2010). He suggests that depression is likely influenced by a streamline of negative thoughts, which he titled automatic thoughts. Beck devised the cognitive triad to better explain how automatic thoughts influence a person’s mood. The cognitive triad is comprised of three forms of negative thinking that occur spontaneously and continuously. The triad suggests that if an individual's outlook is negative in any of these domains, they may be at risk for symptoms of depression.

Negative views of one’s self (Ex: I am ugly) à
Negative views of one’s world (Ex: No one wants to go out with me) à
Negative views of one’s future (Ex: I will never find anyone because I am ugly and no one wants to go out with me)

Beck argues that by challenging these negative thoughts an individual can experience new feelings and beliefs. The goal of treatment is to provide the client with the tools and resources necessary to challenge their thoughts autonomously.  

What is CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression?
CBT is a therapeutic modality created by Aaron T. Beck to help individual’s challenge negative thinking by creating more balanced and realistic thoughts about themselves and triggering situations. (Hunsley and Lee 2010). He argues that conscious thoughts are based on deeper subconscious thoughts that are being activated. These subconscious thoughts influence feelings that can sometimes be overwhelming. The goal of this treatment is to reduce maladaptive/negative thinking (conscious/subconscious) by challenging distorted thoughts and behaviours.

References Used:
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2012). Depression.
  • Harrington, R. (2013). Stress, Health and Well-being: Thriving in the 21st century. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Hunsley, J., & Lee, C. M. (2010). Introduction to clinical psychology: An evidence-based approach John Wiley & Sons.
  • World Health Organization. (2015). Depression.
maple vaughan counselling centre youthWritten by Student Volunteer Writer, Zeena Wong 
Western University 
Department of Psychology and Family Studies 

Many young adults want to seek counselling, but may choose not to for various reasons. I remember going to a counsellor for the first time in grade eleven. Although, I knew that seeing a counsellor was the right decision, I was initially hesitant about speaking to someone. I spent a lot of time contemplating why I shouldn’t go.

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