Depression has often been referred to as the “common cold” of mental illness due to its high rate of occurrence. Research suggests that approximately 15-25% of women and 10-15% of men will experience a major depressive episode during their lifetime. Depression not only affects adults, but children and teenagers as well. Depression is different than simple unhappiness or temporary changes in mood, it is a disorder that can affect anyone, anytime with many emotional, physical, behavioural and cognitive symptoms. Symptoms of depression can include sadness, loss of interest in or enjoyment of activities, thoughts of death or suicide, feeling of worthlessness, difficulty making decisions and concentrating, irritability, feelings of restlessness or being slowed down, fatigue and lack of energy, changes in appetite or weight, physical aches and pains (e.g., headaches, joint pain), sleeping disturbances, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
Depression may be treated by medication, psychotherapy or a combination of these two approaches. If you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of depression, speaking to your family doctor is a good place to start. Numerous studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can effectively treat depression by targeting behaviour and thinking patterns that contribute to and maintain depression.