What is Depression

Depression is a serious and common mood disorder and mental illness. It causes persistent feelings of sadness, loss, extremely low moods, and makes it hard to feel happiness or joy.


There are 6 common types of depression.

  1. Major Depressive Disorder

    This is what is usually meant when someone uses the term ‘depression’. Major depressive disorder that cause severe feelings of sadness, loss, worthlessness, or hopelessness that day-to-day life becomes difficult or impossible. Activities that were once enjoyable are no longer fun.

  2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

    Previously known as “dysthymia”, persistent depressive disorder are feelings of low mood that have lasted for two years or more, but don’t reach the severity or intensity of major depression.

  3. Bipolar Disorder

    Once known as “manic-depressive disease”, bipolar disorder is characterized with episodes of depression, then periods of extremally high energy, decreased need for sleep, and increased risk taking.

  4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

    A type of depression that tends to begin during winter months, as days get shorter.

  5. Perinatal (postpartum) Depression

    This is a type of depression that’s experienced during, or within the first 12 months after, pregnancy. The feelings of depression can range from minor to major, and can severely impact the mothers, infants, and families.

  6. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

    A severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), PMDD can include symptoms of depression, anxiety, and irritability. This type of disorder tends to occur a week or two before the period, and begins to disappear a few days afterwards. It can negatively interfere with daily life, including work, school, and social activities.


Exact symptoms depend on the type of depression, but common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness or loss
  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt or self-blame
  • Being frequently tired
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating or making decision
  • Poor memory
  • Physical aches or pains, such as back pain or headaches
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in things that were previously fun, such as hobbies
  • Lack of desire to socialize or leave the home


The exact cause of depression is still unknown, and most likely depend on the person, and type of depression that’s affecting them.

It could be due to a single reason, or a combination of factors.

Factors that could lead to depression include:

  • Biological/physical differences
  • Brain chemistry
  • Hormones
  • Family history


The best way to diagnose depression, or any mental illness, is to speak to a medical professional. Speaking to a doctor is a great start, as they can listen to your unique situation, and recommend treatment options or other medical professionals that could give you specialist advice.


There are a number of treatments that are available to those suffering from depression. Common treatment methods include medications, therapy, or a combination of the two. It’s been suggested that medication combined with therapy produce the most effective results.

A medical professional can help navigate the different treatment options that would be best for you. Everyone is different, so it may take trying a few different treatment methods before finding one that best works for you.

When to See a Medical Doctor

If you’ve been feeling depressed, speak to a doctor or mental health professional. You’re not alone, and treatment can help you get your life back.

If you’ve had thoughts of suicide or self-harm, seek immediate emergency help. Call 911 or your local emergency medical provider.

If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can also call your local suicide hotline. In Canada, it’s 24/7, and the number is 1- 833-456-4566.

If you know someone that’s experiencing thoughts of, or attempts, suicide, make sure someone stays with them and they’re not left alone. Call 911 immediately.