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Depression is the most common mental health problem. Dr Philip Hopley and Dr Tim Anstiss discuss how to recognise the signs and the help that’s available.

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Depression

Depression is more than just a short period of sadness. It is consistently low mood lasting over 2 weeks and is also accompanied by other symptoms such as: a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, sleep disturbance (sleeping more, or less, waking early in the morning), a loss of energy, changes to appetite (eating more or eating less). Depression is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, and perhaps negative thoughts about oneself, the future and the world. Left untreated depression can go on for months or even years, and it is a condition which can also come back once a person has recovered. For some people, the pain of the condition and the loss of hope of things getting better cause them to take their own lives. Depression needs to be taken seriously.

Telling someone – or telling yourself – to pull themselves together, grow some, or stop feeling sorry for themselves, or telling them about all the good things they have makes no difference and can make them feel worse or like you’re not taking it seriously.

Some things do make a difference though, and these are:

  1. Recognising and accepting it. Knowing that what you have may be depression is a helpful first step to taking other helpful steps
  2. Letting someone you like and trust know about it. However, some people will be supportive, non-judgemental and safe, others might be a bit dismissive or jump in with simple advice. Sometimes people are uncomfortable around people who are depressed
  3. Talk with a trained profession. Your team doctor, your GP, or pick up the phone to our friends at Cognacity
  4. Medication helps some people, but not everyone. It can take a bit of time to get the right medication and the right dose, but some people find medication really helpful. No-one will force you to take medication, and antidepressants are not addictive
  5. Counselling and therapy. There are lots of different types of counselling and therapy, and some seem to be more helpful for depressed people than others. Cognitive and Cognitive behavioural approaches seem particularly helpful, and lots of people derive benefit from mindfulness, acceptance and compassion focussed approaches.

For further information, please visit:

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/#.WHkpo1yYvah

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

https://www.rethink.org/diagnosis-treatment/conditions/depression