Leon C Pereira PhD
Clinical & Behavioral Psychologist
45-955 Kamehamema Hwy, Suite 401
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Everyone gets sad sometimes usually in response to a setback, disappointment, failure, or loss. This is a normal reaction. However, sometimes, sadness endures; it may do so indefinitely at a milder level, may persist at a mild level with a single episode or recurrent episodes of depression, or a person may experience cycles of relative normality with moderate or severe depression. The symptoms of clinical depression include depressed mood and at least 4 of the following: diminished interest or pleasure, significant weight loss or gain, sleep problems, fatigue or lethargy, restlessness, worthlessness or guilt, difficulty with concentrating and decision-making, and thoughts of dying.
It is in the interest of pharmaceutical companies to promote the idea that depression is biologically caused and must be treated with medication. This is not necessarily true. Medication may be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of depression. However, this does not mean that a "chemical imbalance in the brain" is THE cause of depression (or even other disorders).
Also, while medication may help, no single medication helps every depressed person nor does every depressed individual respond favorably to medication. Moreover, no medication can teach you the coping skills and adaptive thinking that is necessary in order to prevent or alleviate depression.
That said, if you are depressed, or are prone to depression, you should have a medical examination. This is important because depression or depressive symptoms may occur as a result of certain medical conditions, prescription or illegal drug use, hormonal imbalances, and the like. You should consult your physician to be screened for possible medical causes.
Environmental factors are known to be related to many cases of depression. Often, depression has to do with unpleasant or painful childhood experiences and/or severe abuse or trauma later in life. In general, an individual who experiences depression lacks adaptive and effective coping skills.
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