Depression‌ ‌

This overview is for information purposes only and must not be used for self diagnosis.

Clinical depression consists of persistent negative thoughts, a bleak outlook, lack of energy and lacking interest in things you enjoyed before. It is a complex condition involving many systems of the body, including the immune system. It disrupts sleep and it interferes with appetite, causing weight loss in some and weight gain in others


What are the primary types of the condition – if there are variations. 

  • Depressive disorders generally fall into two major categories. These are unipolar and bipolar depression.
    • Unipolar depression is what most people mean when they talk about depression — an unremitting state of sadness, apathy, hopelessness, and loss of energy. It is sometimes called major depression.
    • Bipolar depression, or bipolar disorder, is marked by periods of depression and periods of high-energy mania.


  • Other types of depression include:
    • Postpartum depression- The birth of a baby can trigger mood swings or crying spells in the days or weeks that follow. This can be as a result of major changes in hormone levels, fatigue, a lack of sleep, and anxiety surrounding raising a newborn. When the reaction is severe and prolonged, it is considered postpartum depression. This is very common and quite often a “hidden” illness.
    • Psychotic depression- This is characterized by severe depression being accompanied by some form of psychosis such as hallucinations or delusions.
    • Dysthymia- To be diagnosed with dysthymia, a person has to present with symptoms of depression for a period of two years. During this time period, the person may experience episodes of severely depressed mood alongside periods where the symptoms are less severe. 


  • Suicidal thoughts often coincide with depressive episodes, which is why it’s important to be aware of the signs if you or a loved one experience any prolonged mood disturbance.


DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and not to be used for self-diagnosis. If you or a loved one can relate to a number of features listed below, then please do use our therapist directory to find a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist that is right for you to receive a professional diagnosis.

You could have depression if you experience some of the following; the best way to determine if you are, would be to receive a professional diagnosis.

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness. 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex. 
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or a sense of being “slowed down”
  • Restlessness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. 
  • Disruptions in sleep (insomnia, early morning awakening or oversleeping)
  • Disruptions in eating behaviour (appetite changes, weight loss or gain). 
  • Persistent physical symptoms may include headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.


Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only and not to be used for self-diagnosis. If you or a loved one can relate to a number of features listed below, then please do use our therapist directory to find a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist that is right for you to receive a professional diagnosis.

What factors can be contributing causes?

  • There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biologic, environmental, and psychological factors.
  • Major negative experiences—trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation that overwhelms the ability to cope—may trigger a depressive episode. Subsequent depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.
  • Mood disorder may descend seemingly out of the blue, or it may come on the heels of a defeat or personal loss, producing persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, or guilt.
  • Researchers have some evidence that depression susceptibility is related to diet, both directly—through inadequate consumption of nutrients such as omega-3 fats—and indirectly, through the variety of bacteria that populate the gut.
  • Depression is not a definite outcome of all tragedies and negative events one experiences in life. Rather, the possibility of the disorder is considered when excessive/overwhelming contemplation along with negative and persistent thoughts about oneself and others are observed.
  • Research utilizing brain-imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people who do not. Specifically, the parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear to function abnormally. Contemporary research has yet to reveal the relationship between the changes observed in the brain and the causes of depression.


Can it be hereditary?

  • Some types of depression tend to run in families, suggesting there may be some genetic vulnerability to the disorder. 


  • A general practitioner (GP) or psychologist can diagnose clinical depression by asking questions about a person’s medical history and symptoms.
  • The GP/psychologist will also inquire about a patient’s physical health to ensure that the depressed mood is not caused as a result of medical conditions such as thyroid disorder, or by factors such as drug or alcohol use.
  • The GP/psychologist will check the symptoms that the patient presents with against the standard criteria for clinical depression before making a diagnosis.
  • 5 or more features of depression have to be present for a minimum of two weeks, with at least one of the symptoms being low mood or loss of interest in previous hobbies in order to receive a depression diagnosis.

What is the recommended treatment?

  • Many studies show that the most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, which addresses problematic thought patterns, with or without the use of antidepressant drugs.
  • Other forms of talk therapy such as interpersonal therapy (IPT), psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) are also effective in dealing with depression.
  • Drug therapy is often helpful in relieving symptoms, such as severe anxiety, so that people can engage in meaningful psychotherapy.
  • In addition, regular mindfulness meditation, either on its own or combined with cognitive therapy, can help with depression by diminishing reactivity to distressing experiences
  • There have been a large number of studies that have shown that the best outcomes happen when there is a combination of a talking therapy (any type) with antidepressants.

Source: Psychology Today 

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, affecting more than 264 million people of all ages who suffer from the disorder.
  • WHO estimates for 2015 reported 802,321 cases of depression in Sri Lanka.

If you are experiencing any signs of depression stated above, here are activities you can try at home to alleviate some of the symptoms.

  • Exercise
  • Engage in creative outlets such as writing, painting, or music
  • Talk to a family member or friend about how you are feeling
  • Practice Mindfulness
  • Practice Yoga
  • Gratitude Journaling
  • Engage in a well-balanced diet
  • Maintain a good sleep schedule 
  • Recognise what you can and can’t handle