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Sometimes we have a tough day and that's okay. But if you feel down and gloomy for a long time, it could be a sign of something more serious. Here we describe what melancholy is and how you can get help.

What is melancholy?

Melancholy is a condition where you feel low and gloomy. It is a form of depression where you may have difficulty feeling joy, desire, loss of appetite and have trouble sleeping.

Depression is very common in Ireland, with 3 in 5 people reporting experience of what they believe is depression. .

It used to be called melancholy, but nowadays it is called depression, with elements of melancholy, in varying degrees of severity.

If you feel depressed and gloomy, it is important that you seek medical attention so that you can be assessed and treated.

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Melancholic depression

This is rarely a cause of depression. Having periods of deep sadness and depression can be due to a variety of factors. Here are some different factors that can contribute:

  1. Biological factors: Imbalances in brain chemicals, particularly serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine may play a role in the development of melancholy.
  2. Genetic factors: There is an inherited component to many mental health conditions, including depression.
  3. Psychosocial factors: Life events and stresses, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment or other difficult situations, can trigger or worsen the condition. Traumatic experiences in childhood can also have long-term effects on our health.
  4. Personality traits: Some people may be more likely to experience melancholy because of their personality structure. For example, people with a tendency towards perfectionism or self-criticism may be more vulnerable.
  5. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, after childbirth or during menopause, can affect mood and increase the risk.
  6. Medication side effects: Some medications can affect mood as a side effect.
  7. Social isolation: Lack of social support and feeling isolated can increase the risk of depression.

If you have an undefined feeling of unease or depression, don’t hesitate to seek out a professional therapist to help you. You don’t have to struggle alone.

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Identifying the symptoms of melancholic depression

The symptoms of melancholia are the same as those of ordinary depression and it is important that you seek help if you experience any of these:

  • Sadness and loss of interest in activities
  • Apathy
  • Sleep problems or too much sleep
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue or pain
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of zest for life

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What kind of treatment is available?

There are various treatment options for dealing with depression. Psychotherapy and lifestyle changes are common, sometimes medication is also needed. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be an effective treatment method, especially when combined with medication such as antidepressants. By talking to a professional therapist or psychologist, you can work on concrete strategies to improve your well-being and help you overcome your depression.

We make the difficult easier

Experiencing difficult emotions is common, but sometimes you may need support. It is an important step in improving your quality of life and therapy can help you deal with different issues. At Lavendla, we have therapists and psychologists who can help you. We make the hard things easier.

If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm, call 112 or seek emergency medical help immediately.

12 frequently asked questions about melancholic depression

What is melancholy?

Melancholia is a form of more severe depression in which people experience low mood and gloom.

What are the most common symptoms of melancholia?

The symptoms of melancholia are the same as those of ordinary depression but you also feel gloomy.

How is melancholia diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by a medical professional such as a doctor or psychologist through interviews and questionnaires. Blood tests should also be taken to rule out other medical causes.

What is the difference between melancholy and depression?

There is no real difference as melancholy is a type of depression, but it can be seen as a more severe condition.

How is melancholy treated?

Treatment options vary but often include a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychological treatment.

How long is a treatment?

The length of treatment can vary depending on the severity and individual needs. Some people may feel better in a short time while others need longer treatment.

Is melancholia hereditary?

Genetics can play a role in depression, but it is usually a combination of several factors such as life events and personal circumstances that contribute to the illness.

Can exercise help with melancholy?

Yes, regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood. But it should not replace professional care and medication.

What are the risk factors for melancholy?

Depression develops through a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. Life events and stresses can also trigger or worsen the condition.

Is melancholy more common in men or women?

Depression is more common in women, but men are less likely to seek help. Symptoms may also differ between the sexes.

How does melancholy affect relationships?

Depression can make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships and can lead to social isolation. It is important to get the right help.

Where can I get help?

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to seek professional help. Our psychologists and therapists are available for online or face-to-face consultations and can help you make the difficult part easier. If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm, call 112 or seek emergency medical help immediately.

What help is available for melancholic depression?

Seeking help is a big step towards better health. Deciding to take control of how you feel is a positive thing. Here is an overview of the steps usually involved in therapy.

Step 1: An initial assessment session

The first meeting with your psychologist or therapist is usually a diagnostic evaluation to review your mental and physical health. You may be asked questions about your life situation, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You may also be asked to complete assessment forms.

Step 2: Goal setting

This is where you and your therapist set concrete goals for the therapy, both short and long term.

Step 4: Treatment

This is the start of the actual treatment phase, which may include treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but also medication if necessary. The therapy may include exercises and homework assignments aimed at giving you tools to change the way you feel.

Step 5: Monitoring and evaluation

Treatment is monitored regularly to see how well the therapy is working. If necessary, the treatment plan can be adjusted or renewed.

Step 6: Ending and looking ahead

As the therapy comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the progress made. You will also receive a plan on how to use the tools and strategies you have learned in the future.

If you or someone close to you is seeking professional help for depression, don’t hesitate to book a session with one of our qualified psychologists or therapists. If you feel very bad and have thoughts of harming yourself, contact the emergency psychiatric services or call 112.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.