Topic 3 Depression

3.1. Definition and symptoms: from normal to pathology  

Symptoms of depression (as many mental disorders) are normal. Most of us feel sad, melancholic, unhappy, despondent or down sometimes for short periods of time. However, these symptoms can become pathological if the intensity is high and if they last for a long time, causing interference in the person’s life.

Depression (according to DSM-5) occurs when the person has 5 or more of the following symptoms for at least 2 weeks in a row:

  • Depressed mood for most of the day
  • Significant decrease in interest and enjoyment of all activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or to make decisions

3.2. Negative Automatic Thoughts (NAT)

  • NAT are chains of self-deprecating thoughts that appear parallel to normal thinking, i.e. they are involuntary and concrete thoughts that appear at the same time as thinking. These thoughts attract the attention of the individual (and distract him/her), and their appearance causes an increase in emotional discomfort.
  • Such thoughts are characteristic of depression: the more severe the depression, the more often and the more conscious attention these negative automatic thoughts will capture (although the more the individual will also become aware of them).
  • Examples of NAT: “I will not be capable of performing the lesson properly”, “I am not a good teacher”, “Students do not like me”, “My colleagues think I am not valuable nor intelligent”. If these thoughts go unchallenged and are believed the moment they appear, it may be an indicator of a problem.

1.4. Early and warning signs for seeking help


If you notice that lately you are feeling more frequent and more intense the following symptoms:

Feelings of nervousness, agitation or tension, sense of imminent danger  panic or catastrophe, increased heart rate, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), sweating, trembling, feelings of weakness or tiredness, problems concentrating, problems falling asleep, gastrointestinal problems, difficulties controlling worries and the need to avoid situations that generate anxiety, among others.

Then, use some strategy to cope with it or contact a mental health professional (psychologist and/or psychiatrist) to find a solution as soon as possible. Mental health is important as it is physical health.