What is Depression? What is Anhedonia?
Depression is a relatively common psychological disorder, as around one in five people experience it at some stage. Most people think of someone with depression as feeling sad and blue and usually this is the case. However, a person with depression will usually experience a range of different symptoms. These can vary between individuals but could include:
a lack of drive or motivation
feeling withdrawn from friends or family not enjoying activities that we usually do (Anhedonia: The inability to experience pleasure from daily activities)
lack of energy or fatigue
sleeping more or less than usual
eating more or less than usual
feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
disturbances to memory or attention
Of course everyone feels down occasionally or might lack motivation at times, so a diagnosis of depression is only considered if the symptoms persist for more than a few days and if they start to interfere with our functioning at work or in our relationships.
What causes Depression?
Sometimes this is a difficult question to answer. Some people with depression say that life is good and there is no obvious reason to be depressed. However, others will be able to identify a particular trigger (or triggers) such as relationship breakdown, unemployment or abuse. Some people report a family history of depression but others do not. For some people depression is related to a medical condition or can be a side-effect of certain medications. Your medical doctor may suggest a blood test if there are concerns about possible medical causes. In other cases, a psychologist can help you to understand how and why you developed this condition.
There has been a considerable amount of research conducted into the most effective treatments for depression. In summary, most of the research tells us that for people with mild or moderate symptoms of depression, psychological treatments are the best option. The psychological approaches that have been found to be most effective for depression are Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. If the symptoms of depression are severe (i.e., they severely disrupt functioning at work or in relationships) then your medical doctor will often recommend a combination of medication and psychological treatment. If you think your depressive symptoms are severe, it is recommended that you see your medical doctor to assess this for you.
Will I recover?
With appropriate treatment most people do recover from this condition. Some suggestions in regards to recovery from depression include:
seek professional advice and treatment early
don't be ashamed or afraid of a diagnosis of depression as it is common and treatable
expect symptoms to gradually but significantly improve as your treatment progresses
if you are comfortable, it can be comforting to talk to a loved one about your diagnosis
people usually recover more quickly when they are actively involved in and engaged with the therapeutic process.
This includes attending regular sessions and practising techniques and skills in between the sessions.