What is depression?

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 the 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.

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicines. With the right treatment, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

What are the 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
  • Headaches
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, either sleeping more or less than usual
  • Digestive problems
  • Low sex drive
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Treatment for depression

Several different treatments are available at Nightingale Hospital London for depression. You may access these treatments or therapies as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient.

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 by exploring ways of coping with difficulties and making useful changes to change their experience. Interpersonal therapies also offer a chance to understand your difficulties in relationships and ways to move forward.

Medication for depression

Antidepressants are a type of evidence-based medication used to treat clinical depression. They may help you feel less anxious, and cope with stressors better so you can start to enjoy life and deal with problems effectively again.

It’s thought that antidepressants work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, are linked to mood and emotion.

Although antidepressants can be very effective in treating symptoms of depression, they often do not address the causes of depression. This is why they are often used in addition to talking therapies. 

What is treatment-resistant depression?

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)

At Nightingale Hospital, we offer a choice of highly specialised treatments, all of which have been proven to be effective in the management of treatment-resistant depression. 

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation rTMS for depression

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive method of brain stimulation. The basic principle of rTMS is to target short magnetic pulses over the scalp in specific brain regions that regulate mood.

It is a medically safe treatment that has been evidenced to significantly decrease symptoms of depression and OCD. Nightingale Hospital was the first hospital in the UK and still is, to use the highly specialised and effective Deep TMS or ‘dTMS’ using an H-Coil. 

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, administered under general anaesthetic, that emits small currents throughout the brain, intentionally triggering a small seizure.

ECT is known to cause changes in brain chemistry that can reverse some mental health conditions, specifically severe major depression. Despite being largely misunderstood and portrayed negatively, ECT is a medically safe and effective procedure. 

Nightingale Hospital has a formal agreement with the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL), for the delivery of ECT. This agreement provides Nightingale Hospital patients with access to ECT treatment at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow.

This treatment is available to outpatients and inpatients and all patients receiving ECT must be under the care of a Nightingale consultant psychiatrist.

Nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression

Nightingale Hospital is offering a nasal spray for patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression. This spray is used in conjunction with an oral antidepressant.

The treatment has been licensed in the UK since 2019 and has been proven to be safe and clinically effective in reducing depressive symptoms. Nightingale Hospital is the first and only private hospital to offer a nasal spray service for patients with treatment-resistant depression. To access esketamine treatment, patients need to be under the care of a Nightingale Hospital consultant psychiatrist.

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, and 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.

Useful resources

“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”