Is a common response to a wide range of life's difficulties. It is also very variable in duration, frequency and severity. Some depressive disorders are long-standing or characteristic in nature, whereas others are a clear reaction to an event. The latter are usually relatively brief, but sometimes more intense than the more chronic, "low grade" variety. The experience of depression often, but not always, involves a mood of sadness, and can also involve subjective feelings of heaviness, slowness, and lack of motivation to engage in activities. Sleeping and eating patterns may be disrupted. Social withdrawal, and sometimes a quickness to become irritable or easily hurt, can accompany an episode. Along with feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, thoughts of suicide may occur.

Why do so many people experience depression, in one form or another? One way to view a depressive response is as one of the mind's alarm systems. Problems that ultimately manifest in depression may be long neglected, avoided, or not managed effectively. When depression rises, it may mean that your mind's wisdom is letting you know that something is wrong. What exactly is wrong may not be so clear, and that is where professional help can assist a person in getting a handle on the problem. Understanding the current problem and its origins, and finding viable solutions are commonly the ultimate goals of therapy for depression. Therapy is also useful in helping people learn how to identify problems early on, and to address them before the difficulties accumulate. Oftentimes, changes in the way a problem is viewed in the process of therapy can be very successful in helping people to cope better and to make the external changes they seek to accomplish.