What is Depression?
What is depression? Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.
Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms.
So depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together“.
Depression is fairly common, affecting about one in ten people at some point during their life. It affects men and women, young and old.
Causes of Depression
Sometimes there’s a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job or even having a baby, can bring it on. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves. But you can also become depressed for no obvious reason.
Some common causes include:
- – Stressful events
- – Giving birth – women are particularly vulnerable to depression after pregnancy
- – Loneliness – being detached from family and friends can increase your chance of being depressed
- – Alcohol and drug abuse
- – Having a long-term chronic condition can make you more anxious and more prone to depression
Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between people. But as a general rule, if you’re depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.
Other psychological symptoms of depression include:
- – Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- – No motivation or interest in things
- – Finding it difficult to make decisions
- – Not getting any enjoyment out of life
- – Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
- – Speaking more slowly than usual
- – Changes in appetite or weight, constipation
- – Lack of energy
- – Low sex drive (loss of libido) or changes to your menstrual cycle
- – Disturbed sleep
Treatment for Depression
Treatment for depression will depend on whether you have mild, moderate or severe depression.
If you have mild depression, your doctor may suggest waiting to see whether it improves on its own, while monitoring your progress. They may also suggest lifestyle measures such as exercise and self-help groups. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used for mild depression that isn’t improving or moderate depression. Antidepressants are also sometimes prescribed.
Furthermore, for moderate to severe depression, a combination of talking therapy and antidepressants is often recommended in order to improve your mental health.
Book a private consultation
Our doctors may not be able to speak to you immediately. If you are feeling suicidal or need more urgent support please speak to Samaritans on 116 123 or call 111. You can also call 999 or take your self to your local accident and emergency department if needed.