It’s normal to experience the occasional bout of the blues or sadness over the loss of a job, a break up or the death of a loved one. Sometimes, we feel a bit low when we haven’t had enough sleep or when the weather is bad. Either way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are depressed. Typically, feelings of sadness come and, over time, fade away. But when feelings of sadness or hopelessness persist, and interfere with how you function at home, school or work, you may be suffering from depression.

Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

Depression is not a sign of weakness or something that you can just ignore and hope it goes away. It is a serious health issue, for which help is available.

Who is affected by depression?

Depression can happen at any age or stage of life. And it is one of the most common mental health issues. According to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey, 4.7 per cent of Canadians struggle with major depression at any given time – that’s 1.6 million people!

  • 8 per cent of Canadians are likely to experience major depression in their lifetime.
  • Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
  • People with a family history of depression, a history of abuse, a serious medical illness, or high levels of stress, have an increased risk of experiencing depression.

Unfortunately, depression not only targets the individual – it also puts a significant strain on family and friends.

How to recognize depression.

Depression effects how we think, feel and subsequently act. It can seriously impact our ability to function on a day-to-day basis and our quality of life.

These are some of the common symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling intensely sad
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
  • Change in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

What you can do.

Talk to your doctor.

Make an appointment with your doctor to let them know what you are experiencing. Medical professionals are trained to help you understand depression and connect you with treatment options.

Take small steps.

Although everyday tasks can feel overwhelming, you may be surprised by how much you are capable of doing. The key is to start with something small and manageable. Think of something positive you can do for yourself today (a short walk, relaxing bath or a chat with a friend).  Notice how you feel before and after.

Stay connected.

Even though you may not want to talk to anyone, being social can make a big difference in helping you feel better. Here are ten ways to stay connected:

  1. Talk to one person about your feelings.
  2. Help someone else by volunteering.
  3. Have lunch or coffee with a friend.
  4. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly.
  5. Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together.
  6. Call or email an old friend.
  7. Go for a walk with a workout buddy.
  8. Schedule a weekly dinner date.
  9. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.
  10. Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach.

Get moving.

Exercise is a great way to boost endorphins and improve your mood. In fact, studies have shown that, for some people, engaging in regular exercise can have a similar effect to taking an anti-depression medication.

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The self-help resources on this website are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional advice. The information is intended to give people the opportunity to explore topics of interest or that pertain to them or someone they know – in private and in their own time. While all attempts have been made to verify the information, we do not assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter. If you need to talk to someone, call our Engagement Team at 403.233.2360 or send us an email at