Mental Health Minute

How are you feeling?

Use Our Symptom Browser

What is Depression?

It’s part of normal human existence to feel down, depressed and sad at times. We have all said ‘I’m so depressed’ after being dumped or failing an exam, or when your favorite team loses the game. But when a health care provider talks about Depression, they’re referring to something different. Clinical depression, or a Major Depressive Episode, is more than being sad or feeling down. Clinical Depression is a condition which can affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health and behaviors. The people who called named the condition Depression must not have been very wise, as naming a clinical condition with the same name as a normal mood feeling creates confusion.

The two main symptoms of clinical depression include:

  1. a sad, hopeless mood;
  2. a loss of interest or pleasure in things they usually are interested in or enjoy that; is present most days and lasts most of the day
    • lasts for more than two weeks
    • interferes with your ability to perform at work, at school or in social relationships.

Feeling worthless, helpless or hopeless, guilty

Other symptoms of major depression may include:

Who gets depression?

At any given time, almost three million Canadians have serious depression. It occurs in up to 10-15% of men and 15-25% of women.

What causes depression?

There is no one cause of depression, neither is it fully understood, however several factors may play a part. These include a family a background life events and early relationships, your thinking and personality style. a history of depression and family genetics, changes in brain chemistry, or a major stress in a person’s social life and environment including work, diet, family, relationships, and financial situation.

Types of depression

Different types of depression have different symptoms. These include:

Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder

Usually affected by the weather, daylight and time of the year.

Postpartum depression

Occurs in women, in the first year following a pregnancy or the birth of a child. About 13 per cent of women will experience this type of depression.

Depression with psychosis

Depression may become so severe that a person loses touch with reality and experiences hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing people or objects that are not really there) or delusions (beliefs that have no basis in reality). This is a serious condition so seek professional help.

Depression with Anxiety About 65% a clinical depression is accompanied by feelings of agitation, edginess, worry, or anxiety, panic and avoidance.


A chronically low mood with some but not all symptoms of depression.

Depression is not a weakness or character flaw. It’s not your fault. It is a clinical condition. If you think you may be suffering from depression, don’t be embarrassed. This is not something you can usually fix alone, but a health professional can help!

How to treat depression

Depression is one of the most treatable of mental illnesses. Between 80-90% of all depressed people respond to treatment and nearly all depressed people who receive treatment see at least some relief from their symptoms.
The most commonly used treatments are medication and biological therapies, psychological talk therapy, lifestyle and relationship counseling. These treatments may be used individually or in combination. Support from family, friends and self-help groups can also make a big difference. When depression is severe, hospitalization can be helpful, required, and lifesaving.

More information

For further information about depression, contact a community organization, health care provider or your family doctor to find out about support and resources available in your community.

To see if you might be suffering from clinical Depression try a self test at

Web Sites:

To be advised at a later date

Back to Top