Depression – what it is and how to treat it16 January, 2017
Feeling down for a few days is normal and most people experience short-term sadness, or periods of feeling down a few times during their life. However, those suffering with depression feel persistently sad or down for prolonged periods of time that can last weeks or months.
There is still a lot of stigma around mental health issues, especially depression. Some people think that depression is a trivial illness and that people can just “snap out of it” if they just try a bit harder. But depression is a real illness with real symptoms that can be completely debilitating – it shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness.
However, with the right support and treatment, most people who suffer with depression can make a full recovery.
What causes depression?
Life-changing events – such as the loss of a loved one, losing your job, bad grades or even having a baby can initiate depression. People who have a family history of depression are also more likely to experience it. But sometimes there is no discernible reason for it and it can seem like a totally random occurrence.
Depression is quite common (roughly 1 in 10 people will suffer with it at some point in their life) so there is nothing to be ashamed of it you have it. It affects men and women, regardless of age.
How to spot signs and symptoms of depression
Depression affects different people in different ways. Because of this, depression can have a wide variety of symptoms.
Symptoms can range from:
- Lasting feelings of negativity such as unhappiness and hopelessness
- Losing interest in things that once gave you joy
- A loss of appetite/over eating
- Constant feeling of being tired/lethargy
- Poor sleep
- Loss of sex drive
This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, but they are the most common. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can fluctuate. Mild symptoms can make you feel consistently low in spirit and esteem, whereas severe depression can cause suicidal feelings.
How to get help
It is very important to seek help from a doctor if you feel that you might be depressed. Many people live with depression for a long time due to feelings of embarrassment/being ashamed, feelings that they would be a “lost cause” or by simply just putting it off. The bottom line is that the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can start to feel better.
A GP should be the first port of call for you, but many people can also find help with their depression through other means such as making lifestyle changes or complementary therapies. Getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol/cigarettes and eating healthy can all help lessen the symptoms of depression.
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