Feeling down, sad, or moody are all normal parts of emotional experiencing. However, when an individual experiences sadness or irritability for a long and persistent period of time–usually several weeks–they may develop depression. An individual with depression typically loses interest in previously enjoyable activities and has drastic changes in their sleeping and eating patterns. At its worst, depression may cause an individual to lose sight of “what makes life worth living.”
Depression often occurs when an individual has experienced some kind of loss that they have been unable to address or process. Some experience depression in a severe, acute episode, while others experience a more moderate depression that persists over many years. When depressed, they tend to think very negatively about themselves and the world. For example, they may be very judgmental about themselves, feel hopeless about their future, withdraw from people they love and from interests and activities that were important to them. Unfortunately, this just exacerbates the depressive cycle, makes it less likely that the individual will experience positive things, leading to more sadness and hopelessness.
Depression is especially hard for parents to identify in youth given that moodiness and diminished self-esteem are part of typical adolescent development. However, an individual with depression may need assistance to break out of a depressive cycle. An evaluation may be necessary to determine whether they are suffering from depression, other emotional struggles, or a particularly difficult period of typical development.
Depression-oriented services at BCSC: