Understanding Depression

What is depression?

Depression is a medical term covering a wide range of psychological distress. Depression causes low mood, and makes everything harder to do and less worthwhile.

What causes depression?

This varies from person to person. There can be hereditary links. In many cases it can be triggered by life-events. These events can have a significant impact, and those as a child can have an even more profound effect about how you feel about yourself now.

What are the symptoms of depression?

People may:
• Feel numb, empty and despairing
• Be preoccupied with negative thoughts
• Feel low spirited a lot of the time
• Have low self-esteem and lack confidence
• Find it hard to concentrate and make decisions
• Blame themselves and feel guilty
• Wake up early, or have problems sleeping
• Be unusually irritable or impatient
• Not enjoy usually pleasurable activities
• Eat erratically, gaining or losing weight
• Use more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
• Experience a loss of sex drive
• Have reduced energy and reduced activity
• Cut themselves off from others
• Have a bleak or pessimistic view of the future
• Consider, or commit self-harm or suicide

What treatments are available?

The recommendation from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is that in mild to moderate cases people should be offered counselling/psychotherapy and in severe cases counselling/psychotherapy plus anti depressants.

Effectively Anti depressants work on chemicals in the brain to lift your mood. They do not cure depression, but they do alleviate the symptoms so that you may feel able to take action to deal with the depression.

Anti depressants usually take three to six weeks to take effect and unfortunately can come with unpleasant side effects. There also needs to be a phased withdrawal as you can experience withdrawal symptoms.

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