Phone: (510) 428-0111



Causes of Depression

Trauma and stress. Factors such as financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. One can also become depressed after changes in one's life which are seen as positive, such as starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.
Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook on life are at higher risk of becoming depressed.
Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and especially substance abuse, often appear along with, and can cause, depression.
Changes in the brain. There can be physical changes in the brain related to an imbalance of chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, which can lead to depression.
Family history. Genetics plays an important part in depression. Depression can run in families for many generations.
Medical illnesses. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress the illness brings about. In some cases, depression can be caused by the physiology of the illness itself or by medications used to treat the illness.

Who Gets Depression?

16% of Americans will have depression during their lifetime.
Women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. The higher risk may be due in part to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy.
Men have a lower risk of depression, however when they are depressed they are more likely to go undiagnosed and less likely to seek help. Men sometimes show the typical symptoms of depression, but more commonly they will appear hostile or will mask their condition with alcohol or drug abuse. Suicide is an especially serious risk for men with depression, who are four times more likely than women to kill themselves.
Elderly people often lose loved ones and have to adjust to living alone. They may become physically ill and unable to be as active as they once were. These changes can all contribute to depression. Loved ones may attribute the signs of depression to the normal results of aging, and many older people are reluctant to talk about their symptoms. As a result, older people may not receive the treatment for their depression that they need.

Types of Depression

Major Depressive Disorder, commonly referred to as "Clinical Depression," can severely disrupt one's work, relationships, and other areas of life. If symptoms last for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with daily life, one may be clinically depressed. The symptoms of depression include: feelings of sadness, irritability, decreased interest in usual activities or hobbies, loss of energy, a change in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much, decreased concentration, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide.
Bipolar Disorder consists of periods of Major Depressive Disorder alternating with Manic episodes, lasting for at least one week. Manic episodes are characterized by abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood with the following additional symptoms: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, racing thoughts, distractibility, an increase in goal-directed activity, agitation, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities which may have painful consequences (buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, foolish business investments).
Dysthymia is a milder form of depression. People who have this disorder feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two years. This disorder can last for an entire lifetime. Individuals with this condition have many symptoms resembling Major Depressive Disorder, but with less severity.
Seasonal Affective Disorder has symptoms that are seen with any Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. It is the recurrence of the symptoms commonly in the Fall and Winter seasons that is the hallmark of this type of depression.
Postpartum Depression is a type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. Often, postpartum depression interferes with the mother's ability to bond with her newborn. Postpartum depression is different from the "Baby Blues", which tends to occur in the first few days after delivery and resolves spontaneously.

Depression is highly treatable with psychotherapy under the care of a qualified Psychologist.

Treating depression is especially important because it can affect all aspects of life- one's work, social life, and family life. Some people with depression contemplate suicide in the mistaken belief that their depression will never go away. However, most individuals will respond very well to treatment for depression. The most common forms of psychotherapy used in the treatment of depression are psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication.
Drugs used to treat depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), new classes of anti-depressant medications, tricyclic antidepressants, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Combination therapies are often utilized (psychotherapy and medication).
In Psychodynamic Therapy, one goal is to help an individual understand unconscious conflicts which may be causing their depression. Often, there are unresolved issues from childhood which have continued into adulthood that are at the root of their depression. The mode of this type of therapy is to explore thoughts, emotions, relationships, behaviors, and dreams. This process can help an individual understand and come to terms with their conflicts, which can in turn decrease their depression.
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one goal is to decrease the depression which an individual may be experiencing by encouraging them to engage in pleasurable activities which may improve their mood. Another goal is to teach the individual how to recognize and cope with depressive thoughts and feelings to prevent them from spiraling out of control.


Noah Oderberg, Ph.D.
5435 College Avenue, Suite #201
Oakland, California 94618
Phone: (510) 428-0111