Common Mental Health Conditions: Depression

Depression is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. The word depression is used in many different ways. Everyone can feel sad when things and life happens, however, everyday sadness is not depression. It can make you feel hopeless, despairing, guilty, worthless, unmotivated, and exhausted. It can affect your self-esteem, sleep, appetite, sex drive and your physical health.

People may have a short-term depressed mood, but most manage to cope and soon recover without treatment. Depression though is a common but serious illness and can be recurrent (people recover but develop another episode later). In its mildest form, depression doesn’t stop you leading a normal life, but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe depression can make you feel suicidal, and be life threatening.

What depression is not (common myths)

• “Depression isn’t a real illness” – depression is a complex mental health disorder with social, biological and psychological origins.

• “You can simply snap out of it” – No one chooses to be depressed, It’s a medical condition in which your brain chemistry, function, and structure are negatively affected by environmental or biological factors.

• “It happens because of a sad situation” – Depression isn’t always caused by a negative incident. It may arise suddenly and inexplicably, even when things in your life seems to be going well.

• “If your parents have depression, so will you” – It’s wise to be aware of your family history, but try not to worry too much about risk factors you can’t control. Instead, focus on factors that you can manage.

• “You’ll have to be on antidepressants forever” – Antidepressants provide a long-term treatment option for many people with depression, but the length of time that you’re advised to take them can vary based on the severity of your condition.

• “Depression only affects women” – It’s simply untrue! Women more commonly report symptoms of depression, but it can affect men as well.

What depression is (common symptoms)

• An unusually sad or low mood that does not go away or improve over time.

• Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable.

• Lack of energy and tiredness.

People who are depressed can also have other symptoms such as:

• Loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem.

• Feeling guilty when they are not really at fault.

• Wishing they were dead/suicidal thoughts.

• Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions.

• Bleak and pessimistic views of the future.

• Having difficulty in sleeping or sleeping too much.

• Loss of interest in food or eating too much, leading to either loss of weight or putting on weight.

Depression is a serious illness that’s shrouded in many misconceptions. Some contribute to the stigma around depression, as well treatments and therapy, but recognising when you have depression and getting help is important.

If you’re diagnosed with depression, your doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments. For example, they may recommend a combination of:

  • medication
  • psychotherapy
  • alternative therapies
  • lifestyle changes

If you suspect you have depression, call your doctor today to make an appointment and ask them for more information about your treatment options.

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