Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in Britain and while there are some people who believe depression is nothing more than a trivial concern that you can simply “snap out of,” this is not true. Depression is a legitimate health condition . Depression affects both children and adults. Recent studies indicate that around 4 per cent of children between the ages of 5 and 16 in the UK suffer from depression or anxiety.
While it is normal for everyone to go through short periods of feeling blue or down, depression persists for weeks, months, and even years. Fortunately, with the right treatment and support, most people who are struggling with depression can make a complete recovery.
How to Determine if You Have Depression
There is no specific list of symptoms for depression, as the condition affects different people in different ways, both emotionally and physically. However, the most common symptoms typically include:
- Feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and hopelessness that persist for more than just a few days
- Lose of interest in things you previously enjoyed
- Frequent bouts of tearfulness
- Feeling run down
- A constant feeling of tiredness
- Changes in appetite, sleep pattern, and/ or sex drive
- Various aches and pains
Symptoms can range from mild, where you may simply feel low in spirit persistently, to severe, where you begin to feel suicidal or as if life is no longer worth living.
Keep in mind that everyone experiences feelings of anxiety, stress, and unhappiness during difficult periods in their life. In this case, a low mood may improve after a short period of time. This is usually not indicative of depression. However, if you have been feeling low or sad for more than a few days, there is a possibility you are struggling with depression.
What Causes Depression?
In some instances, a life-changing event, such as losing your job, the death of a loved one, or even the birth of a child, can trigger depression. At the same time, anyone with a family history of depression is more likely to experience depression. This is not always the case. You can become depressed for no apparent reason.
During their lifetime, an estimated one in ten people will suffer a bout of depression. They may be young or old, male or female.
Should You See a Doctor?
If you believe you are depressed, it is imperative that you seek help from your GP. Although it is not uncommon for people to put off seeing a doctor for an extended period of time, this is not recommended. The sooner you seek treatment from a doctor, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery.
There are a variety of treatments available for depression, including talking therapy, changes in lifestyle, and medication. The course of treatment is dependent upon whether you are struggling with mild, moderate, or severe depression.
With mild depression, your doctor may recommend monitoring your progress, while practicing “watchful waiting,” or waiting to see if it goes away on its own. They may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and attending self-help groups.
When mild depression doesn’t improve or when someone is struggling with moderate depression, doctors may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and/ or prescribe an antidepressant.
With moderate to severe depression, doctors usually recommend a combination of talk therapy and antidepressants. Anyone with severe depression may be referred to a specialist mental health team for intensive talking treatments and prescribed medication(s).
Living with Depression
People struggling with depression may find that lifestyle changes, such as increasing their activity level, giving up smoking, eliminating alcohol from their diet, and eating healthily, are beneficial. Additionally, joining a depression support group where you can share your experience and get feedback from others in a similar situation can be helpful. You may also find that reading self-help books benefits you by helping you gain a better understanding of depression and why you may be feeling this way.