We all feel low or down at times but if your negative emotions last a long time or feel very severe - you may have depression.
Depression is a long lasting mood disorder that is recognised around the world. It is very common and The World Health Organisation estimates there are over 250 million people around the world who suffer from the condition. This makes it the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Depression can happen to anyone and of any age. Half of those who experience depression will only experience it once but for the other half it will happen again at some point. The length of time that it takes to recover ranges from 6 months to a year or more.
Depression can affect different people in different ways. However common sign and symptoms include:
Tiredness and loss of energy.
Sadness that doesn't go away.
Loss of self confidence and self esteem.
Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting.
Avoiding other people, sometimes even close friends.
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Very strong feeling of guilt and worthlessness.
Finding it hard to function at work/college/school.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems.
Physical aches and pains.
Thinking about suicide and death.
There are various types of depression, listed briefly below (some of these will be discussed in more depth in later blog posts):
Dysthymia/Persistent depressive disorder - Less severe symptoms but experienced over a longer time frame (at least two years for adults and one year for children and adolescents). If left untreated 90% of sufferers are likely to develop major depression.
Major Depressive Disorder - Depression interferes with an individual's daily life - with eating, sleeping and other everyday activities. This could lead to hospital admission, if the individual is so unwell they are at risk of harm to themselves.
Psychotic depression - If very depressed, the individual may experience hallucinations or delusions.
Bipolar disorder - Extreme mood swings from highs, where the individual feels extremely elated and indestructible, to lows, where they may experience complete despair, lethargy and suicidal feelings.
Cyclothymia - Milder form of bipolar where sufferer fluctuates between hypomania and mild depression, sometimes punctuated by spells of feeling fine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - the sufferer feels anxious, stressed and depressed from the start of winter. It can last until spring when longer days being more sunlight.
Perinatal depression - Collective name for prenatal depression (prior to the birth of a baby) and postpartum/postnatal depression (depression following the birth).
Premenstral Dyshoric Disorder (PMDD) - depression and other symptoms at the start of their period due to hormone changes. This is not to be confused with PMS.
The good news is that depression can be treated and symptoms can be alleviated. The sort of treatment will depend on
How much your symptoms are affecting you
Your personal preference for what sort of treatment you find helps you.
Generally speaking, the main treatments involve self-care, medication and talking treatments (i.e. counselling). If you suspect you may be suffering from depression seek help as soon as possible. Many people wait a long time before seeking help, but it's best not to delay. The sooner you get support, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.
Useful Websites: https://www.samaritans.org https://www.papyrus-uk.org https://www.depressionalliance.org https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk https://www.rethink.org https://www.sane.org.uk/support https://www.mind.org.uk