What is depression, and where can you seek help if you think you have it?
Most people experience low moods sometimes. But if you have clinical depression, those low moods can last for weeks or months, and affect your everyday life.
The symptoms of depression range in severity. At its mildest, depression is a low mood that doesn’t necessarily stop you living your life, but can make it harder to do so. At its most severe, it can cause suicidal thoughts and even psychosis (hallucinations and delusions).
Symptoms of Depression
There are many symptoms of depression, including:
- Low mood and sadness
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Irritability and intolerance of other people
- Feeling isolated
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings
- Suffering from anxiety, or symptoms of anxiety
- Unexplained physical aches and pains
- Low sex drive
- Changes in sleeping pattern – either sleeping too much, or too little
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of energy
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it helps to give you a general idea of how depression can affect your life, and make day-to-day tasks seem much harder than they are. We’ll be taking a closer look at some of these symptoms in upcoming articles.
There are also many things that can cause depression, including life events, physical health problems, drugs and alcohol, childhood events and other mental health problems.
So You Think You Have Depression…
If you suspect you might be suffering from depression, don’t sit on it thinking it will just go away. In many cases it won’t. The NHS has created a self-assessment tool that you can use if you suspect you have depression.
However, the best place to get help is your GP. Your doctor will be able to talk you through your options in terms of treatment, and give you advice to help you cope in your daily life. They will also be able to refer you to local mental health services, including counsellors, which you may find helpful.
Your doctor can also talk to you about using medicine to control your symptoms. Some people find using antidepressants, or a mixture of antidepressants and talking therapy, aids their recovery greatly. However, make sure you learn all the possible side-effects of and medicine you are offered.
There are many forms of treatments and alternative therapies that people find helpful. No matter how bad you feel, there will be something that can help you manage your symptoms.
Practising self-care is a great way to manage your symptoms. Some examples of self-care include eating well, taking exercise, getting good sleep,looking after your hygiene and avoiding drugs and alcohol. People also find using techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helpful.
Helplines such as Samaritans and No Panic’s youth helpline provide valuable support and information for people suffering from various mental health problems. There are also online communities, such as Elefriends, which are safe spaces to share your experiences with people who understand what you’re going through.
It Can Get Better
Many people delay getting help for depression because they think it’s not really an illness, or that being depressed makes them weak. This is in no way true, and if you think you have depression it’s imperative that you seek help as soon as you can. Early intervention can make recovery easier. Additionally, identifying your support network will make each day you live with depression a little easier.
If you think you have depression, or have been recently diagnosed, don’t worry. Many people recover from depression, and go on to live happy and fulfilling lives. Even if you suffer from further bouts, once you have established the best method of care and control you will find that you can cope much better.