Am I depressed? Symptoms & causes explained

When a client comes to me saying they are feeling depressed or have been diagnosed with clinical depression and are feeling persistently down or have lost the ability to enjoy normal pleasures or interests I first of all ask them a number of questions to see what effects their low mood is having on their lives.

Some of the common symptoms of depression are below, but not everyone experiences them all or at any one time. Each symptom is linked to each other in some way eg – loss of energy leads to a loss of interest in activities and creates a cycle of behaviour. Difficulties in sleeping can affect appetite and concentration etc. Each problem has a knock on effect to another area in your life.

The most common symptoms of depression are:

  • low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry
  • less energy and feeling less able to do things
  • losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • loss of concentration
  • becoming tired easily
  • sleeping and eating less or eating more
  • feeling less good about yourself (loss of confidence)
  • feeling guilty or worthless
  • losing interest in sex
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and making suicide attempts

But what causes depression?

There is no single cause of depression. You can develop it for different reasons and it has many different triggers. For some, an upsetting or stressful life event – such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries – can be the cause. Often, different causes combine to trigger depression. It is often a combination of a stressful event and one or more of our emotional needs not being met.

I would first help a client to look at what emotional ‘needs’ where not being met in their lives. An article on ‘uncommon knowledge’ lays out the fundamental needs of a person to lead a satisfying, productive and happy life. Just life a flower needs food, water and sunlight if these ‘needs’ are not met the plant will wilt.

Here is a list of the 7 needs:

  1. The need to give and receive attention – to not be isolated from others
  2. The need to heed the mind/body connection – getting the correct amount of sleep, nutrition, exercise and rest.
  3. The need for purpose, goals and meaning – to work towards something and achieve.
  4. The need for community and making a contribution – helping others benefits our mental health and happiness.
  5. The need to challenge and creativity – to try something new, to learn and to grow.
  6. The need for initimacy – to share ideas, hopes and dreams with.
  7. The need for control – in an area of life

By working through each of these areas with my clients we can identify what is ‘missing’ in their lives and look at ways of addressing this.

A study into the effects of treating depression with hypnotherapy, compared to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) showed that, after 16 weeks of treatment of either hypnotherapy or CBT alone, patients from both groups significantly improved compared to baseline scores. However, the hypnotherapy group produced significantly larger changes.

Treating depression with hypnotherapy is now seen as an effective treatment for many individuals. Other recent studies have shown that it is more effective than cognitive-behavioural therapy, which is the most common therapy approach in treating clinical depression. Hypnotherapy for depression can help address the underlying cause as well as help individuals find much more effective coping behaviours. It can also help people achieve a happier mood and decrease or dispel the pessimistic and negative thoughts that generally accompany depression.

Hypnotherapy can also help you recognise any patterns of negative thinking you may be caught up in. Depression can obscure rational, realistic thinking, making everything in life appear awful, all the time.

Have a look at Primal Human Needs to find out more and to see how you could address anything that is missing for a happier, healthier life.