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DEPRESSION

Depression is when someone feels persistently sad and unhappy for a long period of time and affects their everyday life. Depression can sometimes be viewed as trivial and not a real health condition - this is not true. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms and is a very common mental health condition.

 

The severity of depression is usually categorised into the following:

  • Mild depression - has some impact on daily life

  • Moderate depression - has a significant impact on daily life

  • Severe depression - makes it almost impossible to get through daily life 

There are several types of depression and the condition itself can be a resulting symptom of a mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

  • Postnatal depression - women can develop depression a short time after giving birth; this is known as postnatal depression and is treated in a similar way to other types of depression - with talking therapies and antidepressant medication.

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - a type of depression with a seasonal pattern, usually related to winter. Coincidentally, this condition is also known as 'winter depression'.

  • Bipolar disorder - also known as 'manic depression', in bipolar disorder there are spells of both depression and excessively high mood (mania); the depression symptoms and similar to clinical depression. 

Signs and symptoms of Depression

 

  • Avoiding contact with family and friends

  • Avoiding social events and neglecting hobbies

  • Not doing so well at work

  • Continuous low mood, feeling upset and tearful

  • Feeling hopeless and low self-esteem

  • Lack of motivation or interest in things

  • Feeling irritable and intolerant of other people

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

  • Changes in appetite or weight loss/gain

  • Lack of energy, muscle aches and pains

  • Disturbed sleep patterns and low sex drive

Treatments available for Depression

  • Watchful waiting where if someone is diagnosed with mild depression by a GP, they may suggest waiting a short time to see if it gets better by itself. In this case, they'll be seen again after two weeks to monitor their progress.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy, better known as CBT aims to help people understand their thoughts and behaviour, and how they affect them. CBT usually consists of a short course of on-to-one sessions with a trained therapist. CBT can also be delivered online.

  • Self-help techniques such as talking to family and friends, exercise, dieting, mindfulness, books, publications, etc (usually recommended for mild depression) 

  • Antidepressants that can treat the symptoms of depression. GP's often recommend antidepressant medication in conjunction with talking therapies. 

  • Interpersonal therapy, better known as IPT focuses on relationships with others and problems someone may be having in their relationships, such as difficulties communication or coping with bereavement. 

Aiding another with Depression

 

  • Provide the person with an opportunity to talk. If the person does not initiate a conversation with you, you should say something to them.

  • Choose an appropriate time where you will both feel comfortable to engage in a conversation without any distractions.

  • Listen to them carefully, remain calm and provide reassurance.

  • Accept what they say without judging them and show your understanding. 

  • Gently encourage them to help themselves - for example, by staying physically active, eating a balanced diet and doing things they enjoy.

  • If they feel comfortable, you can help them access information and resources.

  • Assist and signpost to professional support such as their GP if this is appropriate.