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Depression: What is it and how to treat it?

Main image 26 April, 2015

According to Mental Health Foundation, one in four of us will experience some kind of mental health problem each year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorders. But what exactly is depression? And how can it be treated?

As we come to the end of Depression Awareness Week, organised by the charity Depression Alliance, we take a look at what depression is, what the symptoms are, and why it’s a ‘very treatable illness’.

What is depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder that, according to Well Scotland, affects one in five people in Scotland.

It’s thought that there are potentially 500,000 Scots currently experiencing varying degrees of depression, however it’s difficult to put an exact number on this.

That’s because many people who experience depression don’t seek help as they mistakenly believe that depression is a sign of weakness or an inability to cope.

Symptoms of depression

Depression can be hard to spot and can cause a variety of symptoms – some mental and some physical.

Mental symptoms include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, while physical symptoms can include tiredness or a lack of sex drive.

The severity of the symptoms can vary too – from simply feeling low or down, to feeling suicidal. In fact, according to Action on Depression, around two people die every day from suicide in Scotland.

Treatment for depression

Treatment for depression generally involves medication, talking therapy, or a combination of the two.

One of the most effective ways to treat depression is through a combination of medication and counselling, a process that allows you to explore any difficulties or specific problems you are having in any aspect of your life.

A key element of the counselling approach is the relationship of trust that builds between a patient and their counsellor – at YourGP, we work with some of Scotland’s most highly skilled and experienced therapists.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) psychotherapist, Christina Raeburn, has been involved in the world of counselling and psychotherapy since 1994.

One of the most effective forms of counselling for depression is CBT, which addresses the core beliefs we have about ourselves, other people and the world around us.

CBT can help you look at how your thoughts and behaviour affect your depression. It not only helps raise awareness of negative thought patterns and how these can affect the way we feel and behave, but also identifies how and what needs to change.

CBT can help you to learn new skills in order to cope with life more effectively – so that you can better cope with the challenges you are facing.

Depression: a very treatable illness

Dr Myskow, Medical Director at YourGP, has some simple advice if you’re feeling down or are worried that you may be suffering from depression.

“Speak to someone,” she says. “The first step is often the most difficult and frightening, but there is so much help out there.

“Find someone you can trust – your GP, a friend, relative or the Samaritans.

“Depression is a very treatable illness; the quicker you access help the sooner your illness can be treated. At YourGP we are happy to support you in whatever way is necessary whether we prescribe medication to help you achieve a more balanced state of mind, through talking therapy or both. Whatever you need, we can help.”

If you want to find out more about depression, or if you have any questions, leave a comment below or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

To book an appointment with any of our specialist GPs, call us on 0131 225 5656, email reception@your.gp or use our online booking form.

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Morgan under CC BY-SA 2.0

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