If depression is the common cold of mental health problems (as it’s often been called) then there are literally millions of people around the world who’re coughing and sneezing at the moment. But the good news is that there are some very effective treatments for this common ailment and in this article, I’m pleased to explain what depression is, how you can tell if you’re suffering excessively, and most importantly, what you can do to overcome depression and take control of your life now. Achieving a better life requires nothing more than practising a few simple disciplines every day...this article and my accompanying program will teach you those disciplines.

What is Depression?

Let’s start at the beginning. Many people may be affected by depression to a greater or lesser degree, as depression is one of the most common health problems. Women tend to become depressed more often than men with one quarter of all women experiencing depression at some point in their lives! Although relatively less common in men, approximately 12% (still a significant number) of males will experience a period of depression.
Depression can affect older people as well as young people (particularly women). For men, sadness may be expressed as anger and aggression (particularly young men). Unfortunately, it may be more socially acceptable for a young man to punch something than cry.

In brief, depression is a very common health problem but the good news is that it can be effectively treated. In fact, as you’ll find when you read through this article, and especially if you take a few minutes to review my program (http://www.overcomingdepressiontreatment.com.au/), you can learn to manage and overcome it yourself. By applying the strategies I recommend in my program, you can learn to be happier more often, and to fight off depression if and when it rears its ugly head.

How Do I Know I’m Depressed?

People experience depression in many different ways. Someone might feel low for a few days if they are worried about something specific that’s going on in their life. Someone else might feel extremely sad for many months, barely capable of doing anything, perhaps viewing their whole life as meaningless and pointless. There is a huge range in the severity of depression. It is perfectly normal to feel sad from time to time. It is understandable to feel low if something very stressful has just occurred, such as losing a job or a relationship.
But there is a significant difference between feeling low for a few days and suffering from depression. Depressed mood is a problem when the feelings of sadness are overwhelming or if you find it hard to enjoy things you used to find pleasant. It is particularly a problem if these feelings interfere with your daily activities and your closest relationships.

Common signs and symptoms of major depression include:
• Feeling sad most of the day, nearly every day, over a period of at least a couple of weeks.
• Difficulty engaging in usual activities and difficulty enjoying activities.
• Withdrawing from social activities.
• Significant loss of appetite (and possibly weight).
• Difficulty sleeping.
• Difficulties with concentration and memory, and difficulty making decisions.
• Feeling slowed down, tired, lacking energy or not very motivated to do things.
• Irritability.
• Feeling very guilty about things.
• Excessive worry or rumination.
• Feeling hopeless about the future.
• Feeling very low about oneself and one’s abilities; feelings of worthlessness.
• Reduced interest in sex.
• Feeling suicidal, perhaps even thinking about how to harm oneself.

It is important to emphasise that not everyone with depression experiences all of these symptoms. Most people suffering from depression will notice a few of these signs. Occasionally, people experience these symptoms and don’t even realise that they are due to depression (e.g. poor sleep, reduced appetite, difficulties with concentration).

What Causes Depression?

A. Life events
There is a well-established link between the occurrence of certain events and subsequent depression. Researchers have examined what types of events have happened to people with a diagnosis of depression. It has been established that loss events frequently occur in the 12 months prior to someone becoming depressed. Psychologists typically put these loss events into four categories:

1. loss by death or separation of a valued person,
2. loss of physical health,
3. lost jobs, career opportunities and material possessions, and
4. loss of a cherished idea.

B. Genetics
There is also some evidence to suggest that in certain people there may be a genetic predisposition or vulnerability to depression. That is, if your grandfather had depression or your mother had it, you may be more likely to have it yourself.

Some people can easily identify what has caused them to feel sad – a loss event, being around sad people, a genetic vulnerability or a combination of these factors. Others may become depressed at different life stages, especially if and when there are substantial changes occurring, such as during pregnancy or following the birth of a child.

For other people there is no clear reason as to why they are feeling sad, and that’s okay! The great news is that we don’t necessarily need to know the cause of depression in order to overcome it. The strategies described in this program will still be helpful and effective.

What Can Maintain Depression?

Whatever the cause, once we are sad it is not very helpful to focus too much on what has caused us to feel that way. It is much more productive to focus on how we can feel better! One of the first steps is to understand what is keeping you sad. Common factors which may prolong feelings of sadness are:

1. being socially isolated or withdrawn from friends,
2. poor appetite and unhealthy lifestyle (e.g. drinking too much alcohol),
3. unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about life and yourself,
4. decreased level of activity (especially less physical activity and pleasant events),
5. relationship problems and problems communicating with people, and
6. financial (and other related stressors).

Once you have identified the things that are keeping you sad, then you can start to address these variables by setting goals, problem solving, modifying your thoughts, changing the way you interact with others, or by learning to relax more effectively. For more specific suggestions, keep reading…

The cognitive-behavioural model upon which my program is based (www.overcomingdepressiontreatment.com), is a scientifically supported model of human behaviour that has led to the development of cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). Many people have contributed to the development of CBT over the last few decades, but Aaron Beck, an American psychiatrist, is generally regarded as the founder of this approach.

Cognitive-behaviour therapy is an approach that is now considered to be the most effective intervention for a range of psychological and health problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and marital difficulties. It is also a very effective approach for helping people cope with chronic problems such as intractable pain and chronic fatigue syndrome. Although I won’t refer directly to all the scientific studies there are literally thousands of research papers from all around the world proving that this approach, if implemented diligently and with discipline, definitively improves mood for most people.

The cognitive-behavioural model is based on the idea that the way people think about themselves, and the world around them contributes to the way they feel, be it happy or sad. Cognitive-behaviour therapy aims to change unhelpful patterns of behaviour and thinking to assist people to feel better on a consistent basis.

The process begins by helping people become more aware of their behavioural and thinking habits. They are then aided in identifying unhelpful patterns, and assisted to develop strategies for challenging and changing such self-defeating patterns. Participants in the process are finally helped to develop more positive and healthy ways of behaving and thinking about things with a view to boosting their self-esteem and confidence.

My program (www.overcomingdepressiontreatment.com) is specifically designed to help you understand the influence of your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes over the way you feel and how you behave. On its own, understanding these things is not usually enough to help you make changes but, as a first step, this sort of insight is very important. This program will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of why you experience certain emotions and why you behave in certain ways, with a specific emphasis on helping you begin to understand what strategies you can apply to achieve change where and when you want. You will learn the foundations necessary for you to make significant and meaningful changes in your life to then achieve greater happiness and success (or whatever your goals happen to be).

Research and experience suggests that people with a clear and specific direction are significantly more likely to achieve their goals, as well as being far likelier to achieve happiness and success. Setting clear and specific goals is not an overly difficult process, so the first section of my program provides you with a few simple steps to guide you through the process towards appropriate goals that are not just specific, but also measurable, achievable, realistic and time-appropriate. Once you’ve decided exactly what it is you want to achieve, then the other steps of the program will help you get there.

One of the cornerstones of this approach is the assumption that the way you think about things determines (to a large extent) how you feel and what you do. As such, “attitude determines altitude”. To achieve what you want to achieve, therefore, often depends on developing the right approach to thinking. This is usually a two-stage process involving (1) challenging unhelpfully negative thoughts and (2) developing more helpful, constructive thoughts. A positive, helpful and realistic approach to thinking substantially minimises the chances of depression, stress and other negative emotions. At the same time, a positive, helpful and realistic approach to thinking substantially increases the chances of success and achievement. “10 Simple Steps to Overcoming Depression” helps you identify where you could benefit from changing your thinking and more importantly, provides you with the skills needed to achieve attitudinal change.

Making changes is usually not easy. Succeeding in life is usually not easy. Overcoming problems like depression, anxiety, stress and maintaining good relationships at work and at home is frequently not easy. Along the way we all face obstacles and difficulties. But even successful people face obstacles and difficulties. Succeeding in life is not about avoiding problems, or being lucky enough not to have any problems, but rather succeeding in life is partially dependent on how you deal with these problems.

Accordingly, my program provides a structured approach to solving problems. The approach can be applied to almost any difficulty and with practice, can be an extremely effective skill that will enhance your confidence to overcome almost any hurdle. Problems can be seen as opportunities to learn and to improve. You will learn to make the most of difficult situations and turn them to your advantage.

Keeping calm under pressure is an extremely useful skill. Keeping calm will help you deal with difficult situations better and make more constructive and positive decisions at crucial times. Learning how to meditate and/or relax, therefore, is very helpful which is why my program outlines and helps you to learn the three main types of relaxation strategy:

1. Breathing control
2. Visual imagery
3. Progressive muscle relaxation

Learning how to apply these strategies is not difficult. Practicing frequently will give you tremendous control. This will then help you deal more effectively with anxiety, stress, depression, pain and many other problems we all face on a regular basis.

Even if you’ve changed the way you think about things, or tried to problem-solve or even applied relaxation strategies, sometimes we simply need to look at the way we’re doing things and make appropriate changes.
Sometimes some of us have bad habits that simply need to go if we’re to reach our potential or overcome certain difficulties. In this program you will obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to work out what and where you need to change, and to help you develop a plan for effectively making (and maintaining) such changes.

The goal is to make changes in various aspects of your life to overcome depression. It provides specific information about depression, depressive symptoms, causes of depression, maintaining factors and different treatments for depression (along with suggestions about where to get help).

The main message I’d like you to take from this article is that although unpleasant and although, at times debilitating, depression is, nevertheless, a very treatable problem. The principles upon which my program is based have been proven to be very effective in the management of this all too common problem.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Timothy Sharp is a clinical and coaching psychologist with 3 degrees in psychology and almost 20 years experience working with people to help them overcome problems like stress, depression and anxiety. He’s the author of the practical and powerful “10 Simple Steps to Overcoming Depression”, a proven program that’s helped literally thousands of people gain control of their lives and beat depression (www.overcomingdepressiontreatment.com).

Additional Resources on Depression can be found at:

Website Directory for Depression
Articles on Depression
Products for Depression
Discussion Board
Dr. Timothy Sharp, The Official Guide to Depression