Depression is the second-most common mental health condition, affecting between 6-10% of the general population at any one time, and is perhaps the most misunderstood. A person might refer to themselves as “depressed” if they are feeling “bummed”, whereas another may be depressed to the point of being unable to eat, sleep, go to work or socialize. Complicating matters, there are different degrees of depression, different types of depression and symptoms also vary from person to person.
Regardless, there are some telltale signs and symptoms that indicate that you may be depressed:
The presence of suicidal thoughts or feelings is serious and requires immediate help. If you are in British Columbia, call 1-800-SUICIDE, available 24/7. A trained suicide response worker will help assess your risk and link you with the appropriate help. Calls from concerned family members or friends are also welcome. Elsewhere, contact your local distress line.
To date, no research has been able to definitively identify a single cause of depression. The way that depression manifests varies, as does the characteristics of those who are afflicted, leading to a complex mix of factors. What can be said is that biological, genetic, social and psychological factors all seem to play a role. Some believe in the “stress-diathesis” model, which suggests that some human beings are biologically pre-programmed towards depression, but that a stressful event, or combination of triggers is what “activates” the person’s biology and triggers a depressive episode.
Most of us know depressed people who come from a long line of depressed family members, others know of people who have become clinically depressed following a divorce, restructuring at work or physical health problems. Research also has been demonstrating that the experience of trauma, especially in the first few years of life, produces structural changes in the brain that increase vulnerability to depression.
When you’re depressed it can seem almost impossible to imagine that something can be done to help you. Depression by its very nature is isolating, or what is sometimes referred to as “the dark night of the soul.” Over the years I have seen and helped many people recover from depression, including severe depressive episodes. If you would like to take the first step and start your healing journey, I invite you to contact me today. Or, learn more about my approach for helping with depression as well as other available treatment methods. I also invite you to check out my tips for helping with depression.
Feeling bad about so-called “unacceptable” feelings and what to do about them.
Talking about ways of working with worry so that it doesn’t overwhelm. A follow up article to When Worry Takes Hold, Part 1.
Some observations about worry and some options for change.
Practical suggestions for eating when your mood is low.
A rundown on one of my favourite therapies.
Much of the information on depression highlights its signs and symptoms. While important, what is often missing is the impact of these symptoms on the affected person’s life.
Understanding treatment options for depression.
The best strategies for dealing with depression often come from those with lived experience and have wisdom to share. A few counsellor tips are thrown in too.
A wealth of free online mental-health related courses, developed in conjunction with people who have lived experience.
Online non-profit initiative from Queen’s University to help the public learn non-drug treatments for insomnia, primarily Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).
A self-help and educational guide about anger, from the counselling department at McGill University.
List of private master’s-level counsellors, or their interns, offering subsidized counselling. Updated quarterly.
Call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7. Other professionals available through this line include after-hours pharmacists, exercise professionals and dieticians
Free, self-directed online cognitive behavioural therapy.
Canada-wide, 24/7 professional phone counselling and other support options.
Web-based learning of DBT skills. Particularly useful for those without access to individualized programming, or to supplement an existing group DBT program.
Resource list, updated quarterly.
Telephone coaching for people with mild-moderate depression with or without accompanying anxiety. Coaching available in English, Cantonese, French and Punjabi. Family doctor’s referral required to access this program. Free.
App developed by the folks at Anxiety Canada to help manage anxiety symptoms and promote relaxation.
A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.
Revised in January 2023.
Online self-help program for depression and anxiety, using cognitive behavioural principles (CBT).
From the people at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). Scroll down for link.
National organization promoting mental health for all.
604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance
7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.
National organization providing information and extensive online resources for managing anxiety.
BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.
24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.
Time-limited counselling support for adults who have made a suicide attempt, or are experiencing suicidal thoughts; also offers support and education for people who are concerned about a loved one with suicidal ideation, or are grieving their loss by suicide.
Self-help guide (pdf). Not intended to replace professional help.
Free self-care manual for depression, available in several languages. Persons with major depression should also seek help from a physician and/or professional counselling.
Support groups, education, info and referral to people living with depression or bipolar disorder and their supporters. The MDA also has a counselling clinic.