Feelings of unhappiness, or feeling ‘down’, are completely common emotions that every individual will feel from time to time. Depression, however, is a mental health condition that is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness that affect the daily lives of sufferers.
Many things can cause depression; such as stressful or triggering life events (such as loss of a loved one, job loss, divorce or separation), family history and genetics or giving birth. The severity of depression can vary from one individual to another.
Signs and symptoms of depression
The feeling of depression is deeper, longer and more unpleasant than the short episodes of unhappiness that everyone experiences occasionally.
Psychological signs and symptoms of depression:
- Low mood that persists over several weeks
- Losing interest in life and feeling hopeless about the future
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
- Loss of self-confidence
- Thinking critically about yourself
- Increased anxiety
- Finding it harder to make decisions
- Feeling unable to cope with tasks that used to be manageable
- Feeling exhausted and lacking motivation
- Feeling restless and agitated
- Avoiding social events and activities you used to enjoy
Physical signs and symptoms of depression:
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Changes in sleeping patterns, either sleeping more or less than usual
- Digestive problems
- Low sex drive
- Unexplained aches and pains
Treatment for depression
Therapy for depression
- Counselling enables individuals to talk about their feelings to an objective, professional person.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is goal-directed, systematic, and problem solving therapeutic approach that focuses on how we think and act to help overcome and manage emotional difficulties.
- Interpersonal and dynamic therapy offers space for people to make sense of what they are doing through exploring ways of coping with difficulties and making useful changes to change their experience. Interpersonal therapies also offer a chance to understand difficulties you may have in relationships and ways to move forward.
Medication for depression
Medication is an evidence-based and proven treatment for depression. Medication may help sufferers feel less anxious, and cope with stressors better so that they can start to enjoy life and deal with problems effectively again.
Up to one-third of individuals with major depressive disorders will not respond to standard treatments. These individuals may be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) treatment for depression
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, known as rTMS, is a non-invasive treatment that does not require medication and can help improve symptoms of depression. It is a highly effective and long-lasting treatment with minimal side effects. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved rTMS as a viable treatment option for those with treatment-resistant depression. Extensive studies have shown that rTMS produces a significant decrease in depressive symptoms.
Helping a loved one with depression
Encourage them to connect with other people
Being with other people can be difficult when you are feeling depressed but talking to someone you trust about how you feel can help.
Encourage them to exercise
Exercise can improve motivation and energy levels. It also has a positive impact on sleep and mood.
Listen to them
Offer a listening ear, make time to listen to problems and worries. Encourage activity and self-care including exercise, keeping a routine, eating well and getting enough sleep. Encourage them to visit their doctor, perhaps offer to go with them for support.
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