Health Page: Let’s Talk about Depression


Tanya Sklierenko (Markland Wood Pharmacy) for New Pathway, Toronto.

Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a debilitating condition with many emotional, physical, behavioural and cognitive symptoms. It is important to differentiate depression from a temporary change in mood or a sign of weakness. Depression can manifest differently from person to person. It may be triggered by traumatic events such as a loss of a loved one or it may not be triggered by anything at all. Despite common misconception, depression is not something that people can “snap out of” or make it go away. It is a real illness that requires treatment such as counselling or anti-depressant medications.

Symptoms of depression can include:

– Sadness throughout the day, nearly everyday
– Loss of interest or enjoyment of one’s favourite activities
– Feeling of worthlessness
– Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
– Thoughts of death or suicide
– Trouble concentrating
– Feelings or irritability
– Fatigue or lack of energy
– Sleeping too much or too little
– Change in appetite or weight

Did you know??

Approximately 1 in 10 Canadians will experience depression during their lifetime. Although depression can affect anyone, women are more likely to experience depression than men. Moreover, people with family history of depression are more likely to develop a depressive disorder.

There are many types of depression, the most common and well-known type being major depressive disorder. Other types of depression include seasonal depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder – SAD), postpartum depression and depression due to bereavement.

Treatment Options

Scientists believe that depression may be caused by the imbalance of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine allow for transfer of messages between brain cells. Thus, medications used to treat depression work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters that affect mood. It is important to understand that most antidepressant medications have a slow onset of 2-4 weeks and must be taken continuously in order to receive its full benefit. Always speak to your doctor or the pharmacist before making any changes to your antidepressant therapy.
Talk therapy and lifestyle changes can also be used to treat/manage depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an example of a talk therapy that helps people correct negative thought patterns. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, proper sleep hygiene and healthy eating can positively impact your mood and help fight against depression.