Overcoming Depression and Major Depression

16th October 2023

There are many factors that can contribute to what is referred to as unipolar depression, that is depression without any bipolar symptoms. A genetic predisposition can play a role. While there is often much discussion about "chemical imbalance" and its role in depression, really, this simple theory has not held up under closer scrutiny.

You can overcome depression.
Never give up!

Really, in considering the thought of the role of a "chemical imbalance" and depression, what is being measured is the chemical nature of the mind itself after the thoughts have been established. In other words, we are considering as much the effect as we are the cause.

So many psychologists and psychiatrists these days do look deeper than that in considering treatments and causes of depression. Chemical balance is one aspect among a hundred that effect depressive symptoms and this simplistic view towards mental health can cover up more serious and lifestyle issues that need to be addressed.

Medications are, in general, treating symptoms, addressing symptoms, but they are not in any way curing an "illness". This thought is well documented. Please see the "chemical imbalance?" page for a closer look at this issue.


Diagnosed when a person is depressed mood for most of the day, most days, and at least two other depressive symptoms, but not of sufficient persistence or severity to be considered major depression. No manic or hypomanic episodes.

Symptoms of Depression or Major Depression

One or more major depressive episodes in absence of any manic or hypomanic episodes. Symptoms consist of a prominent and persistent depressed mood or loss of pleasure for at least two weeks, accompanied by four or more symptoms such as poor appetite, insomnia, psychomotor retardation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, inability to concentrate, and thoughts of death or suicide.

If a person is depressed but experiences less than four of these symptoms, is not having feelings of suicide or of hurting oneself, then the depression would not be considered major depression but mild to moderate depression.

New Link & Study: SSRI Antidepressants 'Clinically Insignificant' For Most People Also, Music Therapy

Major Depression in a child:

The symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder, (MDD), or major depression, a child or teen must have experienced one or more major depressive episodes. This might be from 2 weeks to 1 year in duration and can be characterized by extreme sadness or hopelessness, thoughts about death or dying, loss of energy, inability to sleep, or concentrate. The same is true in the case of adults as well.

Most persons feel sad at times, but in major depression, it is intense and of long duration, causing difficulties in functioning day to day.

The University of Arkansas Medical Department states, as for most mental disorders, that research indicates there is no single cause of depression, but that it results from complex interactions among multiple factors. Biological, genetic, neurophysiological, hormonal. Cognitive distortions, poor coping skills, problematic interpersonal relationships, poor social support, and stressful life experiences can all contribute to depression. A history of abuse can also result in depression as well.

Some factors that can contribute to depression:

  • Stressful life events
  • The loss such as the death of a loved one.
  • Romantic losses
  • A promiscuous lifestyle for some can contribute to depression.
  • Current or former substance abuse.
  • Some studies suggest that "chronic strains," ongoing relatively low-key stressful situations may lead to depression in some
  • Several stressful situations coming in a series can also lead to depression such as a romantic relationship, doing poorly on a test, losing one's job, a major family crisis, etc.
  • The thwarting of a major goal can contribute to depression for some.
  • Early parental loss can contribute to a predisposition towards depression in some.
  • Child abuse can contribute to a predisposition towards depression forsome.
  • Some physical conditions can lead to depression.
  • Having an abortion can result in depression for many women, and surprisingly for men as well. See Psychology Today, May/June 2004. Sometimes that grief that comes as a result of abortion can be long-term.
  • Situations that lower self-esteem be a contributing factor
  • The need for a more healthy diet and exercise.
  • A genetic predisposition can also predispose certain persons towards depression, in conjunction with any of the above or other stressors.

Childhood Depression:

"A warm caring relationship with a parent or caring adult acts as a protective factor against depression. Young adults who have lost a parent before the age of 16 experience more depression and suicide attempts than those adults who came from intact families. Consistent nurturance from another adult, however, can lessen these negative reactions. Lillian M. Range, PhD. Children's Health.

Roberto is 8 years old, he has lost interest in playing with his friends, he only sleeps after school. It is difficult to get him to eat a complete meal. His grades have slipped, his teachers say he doesn't talk or play with the other children and often looks sad. He has trouble sleeping at night and this has been a pattern for several months.

There is much that can be said about depression. Many of the factors on the webpage of this site, 16 Keys page, can have a positive effect on both adult and childhood depression.

One of the causal factors for depression can be child abuse which can take on many forms, both verbal, and physical as well as sexual. These are a possibility in both childhood and adult depression. Adults need to talk about these things, if they have taken place in the past, and children do as well. Healing and comfort is needed for emotional wounds of child abuse, more than anything else.

Diet plays a role in depression. A healthy, nutritious diet, low in sugar in low in refined carbohydrates is needed for children and adults. Children need breakfast. Breakfast in school is often high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Children need a healthy breakfast at home, before going to school. Some children are more sensitive, and this is true of adults as well. Some adults suffering with depression might eat only one meal a day, not necessarily nutritious.

Excessive television and movies, video games,can be a factor for some children, and adults, in both depression, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. For some experiencing mental health problems, it might be better to do without TV and movies completely. It is a measure that can be implemented for six months, to see if it contributes to better mental health in children or adults.

The stimulation with many action movies, with the fast pace of television commercials, can correspond with a plummet in levels of key neurotransmitters, resulting in depression or even contributing to bipolar disorder. For children, cartoons and children's movies, Disney, etc, can be contributing to depression, for some children, and it might be an area that a parent can give attention to.

There is much violence on television for children and young people today. Even Disney channel has some rather intensely violent (non-cartoon) programming for children and young teens.

The average child will:

  • Watch 4,000 hours of TV before they enter kindergarten.
  • Are exposed to 20 to 25 acts of violence per hour on Saturday morning TV programs intended for children.

See Adults and Children Act Against Violence website for more information.

This can be true of music as well. For some, a steady auditory diet of radio rock and roll is too much for their minds. Dr. Joel Robertson’s advances the idea that music effects brain chemistry, and so the type and intensity of the music one listens to can lead to depression and other disorders in some persons, and some children.

Exercise is essential. Regular exercise, 45 minutes daily, of brisk walking, swimming, or something that combines exercise with getting out of the house, has proven to be more effective than antidepressants. (Duke University study).

Green Therapy, has proven to be more effective than antidepressants, that is, getting out in the outdoors regularly.

Psychology today also recently wrote on the subject of depression and cognitive-behavioral therapy, stating that cognitive-behaviroal therapy has proven to be more effective than antidepressants in both the short and long-term benefits. (July/Aug 2007)

An anlysis of major studies on the effectiveness of medication and cogntive-behavioral therapy in treating depression revealed that, in the majority of cases, cognitive therapy was as effective as medication in the treatment of major depression, some studies showing a slight advantage to cognitive therapy over medication. DeRubeis, R. (1997, May). A second group of researchers reached similar conclusions. (Cris-Cristoph, 1996).

Cognitive-Behavioral therapy emphasizes the effects of thoughs on behavior along with performance-oriented focus. Two main themes in cognitive-behavioral therapy are:
1. cognitive processes influence emotion, motivation, nd behavior; and
2. the use of cognitive and behvior-change technique in a prgmatic manner.

Therapy sessions are often accompanied by homework sessions and assignments. The therapist and the client work together to evaluate and adjust changes these have on thought patterns. Faulty reasoning on the part of the client is challenged in real-life experiments and the therapist guides the client to adjust his view of himself, as he realizes that his negative assumptions are faulty. One might sum it up as, a way-of-thinking readjustment.

Three approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy are:
1. Rational emotive behavior therapy
2. Stress-inoculation training (from Donald Meichenbaum)
3. Cognitive therapies of Aaron Beck

1. Rational emotive behavior therapy attempts to change maladaptive, faulty, thinking processes of the client. Rational emotive therapy uses debate and persuasion to help clients to change their thinking.

2. Stress-inoculation therapy involves a self-instructional training which focuses on altering self-statements. You might, self-pep-talk.

3. Beck's Cognitive therapy was originally developed for treatment of depression but later used for anxiety disorders and obesity, conduct disorder in children. It has also been used in treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Clients are made aware of the connection between their patterns of thnking and their emotional responses. They are taught to identify their own automatic thoughts.

The thepraist helps to identify with them logical errors in their thinking, to challenge h validity of negative thinking. If a person feels they are totally worthless, the idea is to gain a balanced view of themselves, get away from the all-or-nothing thinking that can be crippling or which can lead to suicidal thoughts. A therapist works with a client to develop real-life situations to help a client get over faulty thinking, in a step by step fashion. Also, a therapist might help a client schedule his day to day activities, which helps him or her to have a structural framework with less "down-time," which might lead to depression.

Additionally, interpersonal therapy, which is less directed than cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be effective, especially with teens, who often need just someone to talk things out with. Anyone going through depression can benefit from talking things out with a sympathetic listener, whether it be a friend, mate, minister, or professional. This can be and often is a necessary part of the healing process for child abuse or for other traumatic experiences in life.

Spiritual and emotional needs are sometimes involved with depression. Photo: Microsoft

Spiritual Needs Attention to one's spiritual needs is also an essential, often overlooked part of one's mental health. This is true of both adults, teens and children. Reading the Psalms is a stabilizing and comforting activity. The deep emotions of men who experienced inner turmoil, and their deep emotional expressions, often reflect one's own inner sentiments, and there can be idenity with such deep poetic expressions. It can be a gentle and soothing part of the healing process.

Anyone who is attempting to come off antidepressants or other psychiatric medications should do so gradually rather than abruptly. See Newsweek article How to Quit the Cure. Off-site link.

Carson, R.C., Butcher, N. J., Mineka, S. (2000). Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. 11th Edition. P. 662-668.

DeRubeis, R. (1997, May). Cognitive therapy IS as effective as medication for severe depression. A mega-analysis. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Society. Washington.

Cris-Christoph, P. & Connelly, M. B. (1996).