Disclaimer: These FAQs are answered by mental health professionals. However, FAQs are meant only for a general and basic understanding of issues of mental health. They can not provide case-specific diagnostic or treatment. Take a look at the Get Help page to see what works best for you.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Q: What are the symptoms of clinical depression?

A: Loss of Interest – Lack of derived pleasure from activities that were previously enjoyable. Lack of motivation in day-to-day activities. Procrastinating, trouble focusing on tasks, feeling lethargic.

A general feeling of sadness – Feeling sad and empty and having negative thoughts such as feeling helpless, worthless, hopeless etc.

Behavioural and personality changes – Irritability, being seclusive, disturbed sleep and appetite, significant weight loss or gain, low self-esteem.

A tendency to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Q: Is it Depression or just the blues?

A: Any low mood state can momentarily mimic symptoms of clinical depression. But they are different. Depression is persistent. If the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, talk to a therapist or mental health care professional.

Q: I am suffering from a confused state of sadness/ depression but still I feel hopeful & optimistic. I suddenly get saddened & teary eyes with sudden thoughts running in my mind. I feel helpless for myself & overcoming with the thoughts that is troubling me. Is this suggesting I need a counsellor now? 

A: Yes. Sometimes it may be a temporary passing phase after a stressful incident, however, if it continues for more than two weeks, better to seek counseling/therapy.

Q: There are days when it’s very difficult to get out of bed. Zero motivation. Feeling low. But somehow, you get up and move on with normal chores, and as the day progresses your mood improves, and day ends relatively positively. When this happens repeatedly for many days, it concerns. Is it normal? Or is it depression? Does it need medical help?

A: It seems the symptoms here are of significant depression. You need psychological help, very likely medical (drug) intervention  too.Yes, a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist would help. The decision on medication can be taken in consultation with them. While a clinical psychologist cannot prescribe medicines, as a psychiatrist can, she can recognise when such an intervention will be needed.

When it happens for more than two weeks it is depression. It is better to consult a psychiatrist/clinical psychologist to ascertain the severity of depression. However, if it is causing significant disturbance in the functioning then it is better to take medication. 

Self-help methods such as being active, following a routine, being with people who can understand, involving in activities which you like and can give happiness are useful when depression is mild-moderate in severity. However, when these are not giving significant results, or if you are finding it difficult to tolerate, it is better to seek help.

Triggers and causes of depression and other mental health issues.

Q: Can sleep deprivation lead to depression?

A: While sleep deprivation alone cannot cause depression, prolonged lack of sleep can increase the risks of various mental illnesses. And depression could be one of them.

Q: Something common in IISc among students and faculties is the “existential depression”. Any Solutions? 

Sometimes when things are not going according to what we want or when we do not find satisfaction in the kind of work that we do, we feel depressed or anxious. This is the time to sit back and reflect/clarify our priorities in life and the reasons for our distress. We should also look at our fears which may be preventing us to choose the paths that we want to take. We need to work on our fears before choosing the paths that we want to travel.

Q: Does logical thinking increase depression when you are wrong at first. It is a vicious logical conclusion that you are wrong. 

When we find that we have made a mistake we may feel bad for sometime and we may take various steps to rectify our mistakes if it is possible. When it is not possible is when sometimes we may develop depression.

Q: Are lifestyle changes (sleep cycle, meditation and mindfulness, physical exercise etc.) enough to cope up with depression? 

A: Though making lifestyle changes can certainly help with depression but they cannot replace professional help. Seeking professional help will help people understand their thoughts and worries and make a conscious effort to change cognitive behavioural patterns which is extremely important. In fact, seeking professional help along with lifestyle changes might be the key to cope with Depression. 

Q: Do many people with depression commit suicide?

A: No. While there are people who can be suicidal because of clinical depression, most cases do not involve suicidal thoughts. 

Treating mental health illness

Q: How to treat depression? 

A: The best way to treat depression is to seek professional help and make suitable lifestyle changes that complement the treatment.

Q: Is there such a thing as “Getting out of depression/ Anxiety”? What is it or the closest things to it? How do I identify and convince it in myself or a close one? What next? 

Definitely one can be in remission after an attack of depression or anxiety. There is pleasure in previously pleasurable activities, there is no fatigue without exertion, there is hopefulness, need to meet friends , family and reconnect. And improvement in personal grooming, appetite, sleep. Since depression can be a recurrent illness, one needs to anticipate the early signs and symptoms of depression and maintain a mood diary for early diagnosis and intervention.

Q: How should one choose a psychiatrist? What if the person has consulted many counsellors and psychiatrists but not found anyone suitable to the level that the person loses hope in therapy? 

When you choose the therapist, the first thing that needs to be kept in mind is to approach a trained Clinical Psychologist. In the current scenario where many people without adequate qualification are practising counselling, it is important to ensure that the person has done M.Phil in Clinical Psychology so that they are trained in various therapies for depression. In addition, please do not hurry, it takes some time for the therapies to work, and for which your efforts are equally important. 

Q: Are there any side-effects of medication?

A: There can be some side-effects varying from person to person, but they are easily manageable and go away with time. Your psychiatrist will monitor the doses and effects periodically. In case there are any side effects, consult your doctor immediately.

Q: There might be some triggers/constant negative thoughts or incidents which we might not be comfortable in sharing with others. How to decide whom to share with? How to break the inhibition and talk openly? How to decide to which extent I can /should open up & which things to address personally/ internally myself? Sometimes it is tough to say somethings event a professional. What to do then? 

A: It takes time to trust a therapist and share things. You may take your own time to share the most sensitive things till you develop trust in the person. One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that most qualified psychotherapists maintain confidentiality and they can handle the difficult issues.