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What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that is more than just "feeling sad". It can interfere with daily life including changes to your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours. For example, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of energy. When these symptoms go ignored, the depression can worsen over time if not managed effectively.

So, how do we know whether it is just extreme sadness or whether it is something more severe?


Am I Sad or Depressed?

Feeling sad is something that everybody experiences whether its from having an argument, missing someone in your life, or when things aren't going your way. It's a normal emotion that lasts for a short period of time and generally passes within a few days. You might cry, feel angry, or lost during this period but still go about your daily life.

Depression is a mental illness that lasts for a longer period of time and is not something you can just "get over" on your own. You may start to feel like life is becoming overwhelming and lose motivation to do activities you usually enjoy.

What Causes Depression?

Depression is not caused by a single factor alone and is often a combination of multiple triggers which may include:

  • Genetics & Family history

  • Abuse

  • Trauma

  • Life-changing Situations

  • Medications

  • Chronic Illnesses

Types of Depression


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The changes in weather may affect changes in mood including periods of depression.

For example, the cold winter months and shorter hours of daylight may cause some individuals to experience winter depression. During warmer months, the depression may start to fade.


Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Ongoing feelings of depressed and low moods. People with this disorder may have different lengths and severity of depression, but must occur for at least two or more years.



Psychosis may occur when a person has severe depression. People may experience hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there), lose touch with reality, or have delusions (false beliefs that are not grounded in reality)

What Are The Signs & Symptoms?

  • Suicidal Thoughts

  • Detachment from reality

  • Feelings of guilt & emptiness

  • Feeling worthless or hopeless

  • Extreme sadness

  • Irritability & Anger

  • Sleeping Problems & Insomnia

  • Withdrawing from social interactions

  • Losing interest in hobbies & daily activities

  • Trouble focusing

  • Losing or gaining weight

What Can I Do To Help?

Depression can be treated through a variety of different methods, in order to make symptoms and feelings more manageable.

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Medication: Antidepressant medications may be used to help control or balance mood and other symptoms. Different medications will also have varying side effects on each individual. It is important to speak to your doctor or therapist about possible options or whether taking medication may be right for you.


Therapy: Different forms of therapy may be used to help manage depression such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and interpersonal therapy (IPT). The type of therapy model used is dependent on each unique individual and situation.


Self-Help Resources: There are many different apps and websites available that individuals can use to develop their own toolkit of resources. As a starting point, many Universities have a wellness page on their website with local resources available for students. Be open to trying out different options to find what works best for you.

Check out some of the resources below:

It is always best to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. This page should not be used as a resource to self-diagnose. 

Depression Infographics & Tip Sheets

Click one of the topics below to download and print our sheets or click here to view more of our infographics. 

Taking Control Of Your Depression

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