What it is and is not

​Clinical or major depression is a complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry. While it can suddenly go into remission, depression is not something that people can “get over” by their own effort.

Everyone has periods of unhappiness in their lives, such as the loss of a loved one or job dissatisfaction. Many people become temporarily down when things don’t seem to be going well. These feelings are a normal part of life.

Major depression is a clinical term used by psychiatrists to define a time period that lasts more than two months in which a person feels worthless and hopeless.


Many factors contribute to the development of major depression. An individual may be genetically predisposed to depression, and his or her risk can be increased by several external factors. They include:

  • The death or illness of a spouse, friend or family member
  • Difficulties at work or with a personal relationship
  • Low self-esteem
  • Financial difficulties
  • Addictions

Some people suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects them at the same time every year, usually in the winter when there is less natural light.

Due to hormonal changes, women may experience postpartum depression after giving birth or depression around menopause.


Depression can affect the way you think and behave and can have physical effects as well. Some of the signs you should be aware of are:

  • Feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Detachment from life and the people around you
  • Always feeling tired or having no energy
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Not being able to concentrate or make decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • A loss of appetite or a change in sleep patterns
  • Headaches or stomach upsets that occur frequently

Learn More


To learn more, there’s tons of Online Resources available, so here’s a start:

Mood Disorder Society of Canada (MDSC) also leads the national Defeat Depression campaign. These campaigns consist of walks/runs that are held from coast to coast, hosted by community organizations coming together to support local mental health services. At these events people share their stories, knowledge and experiences. There you will find friends and neighbours in your area who learn from each other and tackle depression together. Please visit www.defeatdepression.ca.

References:  CamH, Canada.ca, Defeat Depression