Depression is not always sadness. Depression is often experienced as a pervasive feeling of flatness, guilt or lack of pleasure. It can often manifest as grumpiness, anger or irritability (especially in men). It’s associated with lifestyle changes such as under/over sleeping, appetite changes and concentration difficulties. Depression can be a normal (but unhelpful) response to life. It might be that a depressed person has experienced grief, or a series of bad luck or has found himself/herself in a seemingly hopeless situation. Sometimes, negative events from early life can come back to haunt people and trigger depression. This is especially true if these events have influenced our beliefs about ourselves, the world or the future.

Depressed people are caught in a cycle. Negative thinking begets negative action begets negative experiences begets negative thinking. Depressed people can’t just snap out of it – try asking a depressed person to do this and see how successful you are! Depressed people are stuck. You cannot get unstuck unless you first understand the cycle that you are stuck in. Once you understand it, then (and only then) are you empowered to make the changes required to get unstuck. These changes will involve acting in a different way. These changes will involve thinking in a different way. These changes might involve opening yourself up to the ghosts of the past. These changes hold the promise of allowing you to live a better life than before you became depressed. These changes allow the opportunity to transcend your old self and to be a person with a greater sense of integrity and purpose.

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