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What Is Depression?

 

Depression is a prolonged state of low mood that significantly impacts daily functioning. In its mildest form, depression may manifest as feeling down or having a lack of enthusiasm. While it doesn't necessarily hinder one's ability to carry out normal activities, it can make everything feel more challenging and less meaningful. However, at its most severe, depression can pose a serious threat to one's life, potentially leading to suicidal thoughts.

There are various types of depression, including:

  1. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - This type of depression typically occurs during the winter months, although it can occur at other times as well. SAD is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, disrupted sleep patterns (either excessive or insufficient sleep), loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, anxiety, withdrawal from social interactions, overeating (especially comfort eating), decreased sexual desire or pleasure, and increased substance abuse.

  2. Dysthymia - Dysthymia refers to a milder form of depression that persists for a duration of two years or more. It is often referred to as chronic depression due to its long-lasting nature.

  3. Prenatal Depression - Prenatal depression occurs during pregnancy and is also known as antenatal depression. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities.

  4. Postnatal Depression (PND) - Postnatal depression typically emerges within the first week after giving birth. It can manifest as persistent feelings of sadness, low energy levels, difficulty bonding with the baby, changes in appetite, insomnia, and overwhelming feelings of guilt or inadequacy.

It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing any form of depression. Mental health counsellors are trained to provide support and guidance to individuals struggling with their mental well-being. Remember, you are not alone and there are resources available to help you navigate through this challenging time.

SYMPTOMS:

If you are consistently experiencing the symptoms of depression for a period of more than two weeks, the NHS advises that you should consult your GP.

The symptoms encompass:

  1. Persistent low mood and feelings of sadness.

  2. Fatigue and a lack of energy.

  3. Difficulty concentrating and functioning effectively.

  4. A decline in confidence and hope.

  5. Sleeping excessively or too little.

  6. Inability to derive pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable.

  7. Social withdrawal from friends and family.

  8. Engaging in self-harming behaviours.

  9. Thoughts of suicide (If you feel concerned about acting upon these thoughts, it is crucial to seek immediate help. You can contact an ambulance, go directly to the nearest A&E, or reach out to the Samaritans at no cost on 116 123).

 

 

 

Experiencing symptoms of depression alongside symptoms of anxiety is a frequently encountered occurrence. This is because certain symptoms, such as feeling irritable and restless, can be indicative of both conditions.

Furthermore, it is important to note that depression can also manifest as a symptom of other mental health disorders, including Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

CAUSES

Depression does not have a singular cause. It is a complex condition influenced by various factors. These factors may include:

Genetics – Research indicates that the likelihood of experiencing depression is higher if a close family member has also dealt with it. However, this could be due to inheriting certain traits and behaviours from them during our upbringing.

Past and present life experiences – Early experiences, such as childhood abuse, trauma, neglect, as well as life events like job loss, financial difficulties, and bereavement, can contribute to the onset of depression.

Physical health issues – If you have an ongoing physical health problem, you are more susceptible to developing depression. This is often because the symptoms associated with the physical condition, such as fatigue and loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, can lead to depressive feelings.

Medication, drugs & alcohol – Some prescription medications may have depression as a side effect. If you notice this happening to you, it is important to consult your doctor to explore alternative options. While some individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, it is crucial to note that this actually exacerbates depression in the long run. Therefore, it is strongly advised against.

Overall, depression is influenced by a combination of these factors, and understanding them can be helpful in seeking appropriate treatment and support.

HOW CAN I HELP MYSELF?

Engage in a conversation - having a discussion with someone you trust can be beneficial on its own, as sharing your experiences with another person can bring about a sense of relief.

Prioritize your physical well-being - ensure you get an adequate amount of sleep, opt for a more nutritious diet, and engage in regular exercise!

Embrace self-care - discover activities that bring you joy and actively engage in them. Seek out people or places that uplift your spirits. Allow yourself to indulge! Above all, be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion you would extend to a friend. Try not to be overly harsh on yourself during difficult days; remember, it's a journey.

Maintain personal hygiene - though it may seem trivial, personal hygiene can often take a backseat when dealing with depression. However, making an effort to brush your teeth and shower can have a significant impact. Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest difference!

 

TREATMENT

If you are suffering from depression, there are numerous talking therapies that can provide support. These therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

  • Group Therapy

  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

  • Counselling

The specific therapy you receive will depend on the severity of your symptoms and their underlying causes. Additionally, medication may be offered based on your symptoms and personal experiences.

 

It is crucial to have a discussion with your doctor in order to determine the most suitable antidepressant for you, as it may be necessary to try different types before finding the one that works best.

In cases where symptoms are not significantly affecting your daily life or are not particularly severe, your doctor might suggest a method called "watchful waiting". This involves monitoring your mood for a brief period of time, as mild depression symptoms can sometimes resolve spontaneously.

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