What is depression and how can seeing a Psychologist help?

Depression lasts longer than sadness and the blues, and commonly reduces one’s pleasure in life and is more disabling than mere sadness. Clinical depression is the term often used to describe depression that impairs a person’s functioning and quality of life. The cause of depression is a matter of debate but generally speaking it is believed to be a combination of biological factors (eg genetics, chemical imbalance, medical conditions), psychological factors (eg thinking patterns, personality traits) and social factors (eg relationships, social support, life events).

The most common symptoms of depression are: depressed mood (feeling depressed, sad, flat, unhappy), teariness, appetite and sleep problems (usually a decrease, sometimes an increase), reduced pleasure and interest, reduced energy and motivation, poor concentration, irritability, indecision, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, self-criticism, suicidal thinking, and reduced sex drive. Anxiety symptoms are frequently experienced in combination with depression. There are numerous types of depression (eg Major Depression, Dysthymic Disorder, Adjustment Disorder) and subtypes (eg single episode, chronic, melancholic) and these can be further discussed with your treating practitioner.

Psychologists can help you by providing a range of treatments including Cognitive-behaviour therapy, Mindfulness therapies, Interpersonal psychotherapy, and Schema therapy. Within these approaches we often provide the following:

  • Education about depression and how to best respond when depressed.
  • Teaching you skills to manage the depression including mindfulness, exercise and activity scheduling.
  • Teaching you how to change the way you respond to depressive thoughts including defusion, mindfulness and thought challenging.
  • Improving your lifestyle so that it compliments lowering depression and managing it better.
  • Improving your relationships and social supports and resolving interpersonal conflicts as required.
  • Exploring unresolved emotion regarding past and present difficult events.
  • Increasing your sense of meaning in your life.
  • Liaising with your GP to arrange medication if required.