I have suffered most of my life as well. Even though what I had is called low grade depression, and my father had a much more severe case, I did not even know what it was that I was experiencing until I heard the symptoms described on television as a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness and said to myself: oh is that what I have! Unfortunately, as I was to find out, identifying it and conquering it were two very different things.
The insidious nature of depression is what has fooled most of the members of the medical and psychological community. It seems to just be there without warning like a light that automatically goes on in a room when we enter. So the problem with conquering depression has dealt mostly with getting out of it once we are in it, ways of not feeling the helplessness and hopelessness that triggers it and using medication in an effort to curb it's tenacious grasp.
Until now, to my knowledge, very few have figured out how to stop it from being triggered when we feel helpless and hopeless except by filling us with drugs which may have dangerous and unpleasant side effects. My purpose is not to argue the merits of taking medication to control depression, that is between you and your physician, my purpose is to shed some light on how and why many people go from feeling helpless and hopeless and then seemingly automatically into a depressive state and how this vicious cycle can be ended and how one can easily stop the process from ever occurring again. Yes, I said easily, when you know how.
The reason we slip so easily into depression without apparently making a conscious decision is because it has become a habit that is triggered whenever we feel helpless and hopeless, at least for those who suffer. So since it is a habit it just seems to happen automatically. Thus we must make a definitive decision to end the habit and thus react differently when we feel down and defeated. The reason it seems to come spontaneously is that our mind considers it to be a kind of coping mechanism with the payoff being the best excuse in the world not to do anything. The problem is though, you feel like dying and all of your ambition is gone and in general you feel like crap! All in all it is a lousy way to deal with life's issues and problems.
What I discovered after searching for nearly twenty years for the answer is that it was right there all the time only I was looking in the wrong place. It was like looking for a pair of glasses that are right there on your head, you can't see them because they are too close and you are looking out instead of in at yourself. Then one day I found the switch to turn it off. Oh by the way, for those of you who have grown a bit attached to your episodes, the answer is yes, you can turn it back on again if you want to, why you would want to, I do not know but there it is all the same, your escape hatch. So now you have no excuses to delay using the process, but only if you really want to. Being halfhearted about it will not work. That is why you have the escape hatch.