In my experience, I tend to see three overarching factors that contribute to depression. But first, what is depression? If you find that you haven’t been enjoying life as much, if you’re feeling worthless, if you’re low on energy, or if you’re seeing differences in how you eat or sleep, you could have depression. At times depression can creep in and we don’t notice it until our relationships or work are affected. And by all means, if you’re having thoughts about suicide, there is hope.

Now about those three factors: First, some of us are born with a predisposition for depression. If you know that your parents, grandparents, or siblings have had depression, your brain may have a tendency to become depressed from time to time. Some people see their symptoms grow more intense in the fall or winter. Some women may notice their mood changes at certain times in their menstrual cycle. When there is a biological factor, medication is quite often helpful. Therapy can help you find strategies to reduce the impact that depression has on you.

Second, you may have things going on in your life that are creating depressive symptoms. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a breakup, or repeated setbacks in meeting your goals can lead to feelings of helplessness and a lack of meaning. Therapy can help you identify ways that you can both empower yourself and practice more kindness and compassion towards yourself and others.

Last, you may be struggling with finding purpose or meaning in your life as a whole. Life is difficult and challenging; we are each responsible for determining what matters to us and committing ourselves to it. Therapy can be a place to explore your changing values and beliefs. At times this search can have a spiritual component to it; I am comfortable talking about your beliefs and respecting them. Deep down, I believe that if each of us has the chance to be as genuine as possible, depression will be limited and we will find life to be more fulfilling and satisfying. The journey toward authenticity can be difficult, and having the support of a therapist can help a lot.