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All people experience sadness at some point in their lives as it is a normal human emotion. For this reason, psychologist do not consider a person to be suffering from a diagnosible disorder in conjunction with sad mood unless the feeling state becomes prolonged (and possibly intense).  Untreated depression can go on for weeks, months, and even years and become intense enough to cause suicidal behaviors or a loss of touch with reality, such as psychotic symptoms (e.g., hearing or seeing things that are not really there, believing things that are not real).  

Symptoms of depression include the following:

  • depressed mood (such as feelings of sadness or emptiness)
  • reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed
  • sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping to much)
  • a change in eating pattern (suddenly overeating or a loss of interest in food)
  • loss of energy or a significant reduction in energy level (others can observe that activity is slowed down)
  • difficulty concentrating, holding a conversation, paying attention, or making decisions that used to be made fairly easily
  • suicidal thoughts or intentions
  • feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • repeated thoughts about death (other than fears of dying or suicide, the person may be preoccupied with thoughts about death and dying

What Can Be Done About Depression?

Most mental heath practitioners agree that a combined approach of psychotherapy and antidepressants can effectively treat clinical depression.  In the depressive episode is relatively mild, and the individual does not have a history of recurring depressive episodes, then it is quite possible that the depression may be treated without medication.

“60% of depressed patients currently receive psychotherapy as all or part of treatment.”

- Boyles, 2002

Psychotherapy for depression will focus on assisting you in the ability to  alleviate the symptoms of depression by helping you to:

  • Verbally identify, if possible, the source of depressed mood
  • Express feelings of hurt, disappointment, shame and anger that are associated with life experiences
  • Verbally express understanding of the relationship between depressed mood and repression of feeling states
  • Appropriately grieve the loss fueling the depressed mood 


Boyles, S. (2002, January 8). More people seeking treatment for depression. WebMDHealth. Retrieved January 9, 2002, from