Depression: A silent cry for help

If you’re still following my blog, thank you! Just a quick note, my blog is primarily based on personal views and experience, sometimes referring to research and some background information, with the aim of helping anyone who may be suffering, or know of anyone suffering from a mental health illness. I would welcome any advice and feedback on my blogs, or your personal thoughts on the topic.

Depression is a word used by most people to describe feeling sad or down, but it’s much more than this. Many use the word to describe their mood at one particular point, but depression is actually a prolonged, consistent period of low mood that causes several persistent symptoms (discussed below).

Depression can vary in individuals, with some people experiencing a long period of low mood; whereas others can experience persistent sadness for weeks, months (or even longer). It can become so severe that it could lead to self-harming behaviours, and even suicide. Despite such alarming statistics surrounding depression and self-harm/suicide, many people are still sceptical about depression being a diagnosable and treatable illness – and simply see it as being ‘sad’.

It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 people suffer from some form of depression. It is also estimated that there are around 800 000 suicides per year (with many suicide attempts for each death). Estimates of self-harm related injuries are also very high. Whilst I can’t provide exact statistics, what’s most alarming with the self-harm statistics is that they are very high in young adults. This should encourage individuals to be more aware of possible signs and symptoms of depression – which this blog will hopefully help with!

We live in a society where pressures are high, expectations are high, and individuals are expected to conform to a certain way of life. This can become too much for some individuals, and can lead to depressive symptoms. There are many causes of depression, and sometimes it can take just one event (bereavement, unemployment, etc.) to trigger a depressive episode. It’s therefore important to know the symptoms of depression, so that you are able to recognise them more easily (whether that be in yourself, or in those close to you).

There are several types of symptoms of depression, which are:

  • Psychological Symptoms:
    – Persistent low mood or sadness
    – Low self-esteem
    – Lack of confidence
    – Feelings of hopelessness
    – Lack of motivation
    – Loss of interest or pleasure
    – Feeling irritable and confused
    – Suicidal ideation or self-harming thoughts
    – Psychotic experiences (some individuals with severe depression can experience   hallucinations, and delusions).
  • Physical Symptoms:
    – Fatigue
    – Lack of energy
    – Weight loss or gain (commonly misconstrued symptom – weight gain is also common, not just weight loss)
    – Disturbed sleep or changes in sleeping patterns; frequent waking
    – Moving and/or speaking slowly
    – Aches and pains
  • Social Symptoms:
    – Mood has a significant impact on social life, employment, and personal relationships
    – Lack of interest
    – Avoiding contact with others
    – Attempting to stay hidden from others – It should be said here, that social symptoms are not always obvious, many individuals can   become experienced in ‘putting on a smile’ and hiding how they really feel.

I should note that this is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, but rather some of the more common symptoms.

Depression is usually diagnosed, based on severity, as being:
Mild: having some impact on your daily life.
Moderate: having a significant impact on your daily life.
Severe: severely impacting your daily life.

There are also several types of depression:

  • Major (Clinical) Depression: characterised by constant low moods and an inability to enjoy life. It ranges in severity and is usually recurrent (ongoing).
  • Dysthymia: a mood disorder consisting of the same symptoms as major depression, but less severe.
  • Bipolar Disorder: (also known as manic-depression), which consist of cycling mood changes. Episodes of depression alternate with manic episodes (which include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and lack of sleep).
  • Postnatal Depression: which occurs for some women, after having a baby.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): this is a seasonal type of depression that is related to day length. It usually comes on in autumn or winter, and lasts to spring or summer.

Treatment…

  • Regular exercise is found to be effective for mild to moderate depression (whether it be a short walk, or a game of football). It is found to be very effective in elevating mood and increasing energy levels.
  • Connect with other people in similar situations to yourself.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): a talking therapy, used to help identify and change negative thoughts and feelings that are affecting your behaviour.
  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy: It is similar to CBT, but concentrates on taking the time to see what is happening around you in a non-judgmental way. This is usually done in a group setting.
  • Counselling: counselling sessions can be effective in talking through your problems, and getting some general advice on issues you may have.
  • Interpersonal Therapy: focuses on your relationships, and improving them.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: focuses on how past experiences can impact current thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  • Medication: antidepressants can be issued, which help to elevate mood. These are usually given to stabilise mood, before other forms of therapy are used. The usual type of antidepressants used are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which help to increase the levels of the neurotransmitter (chemical) called serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is believed to have a positive influence on mood, emotion and sleep. There are many different types, and the most suitable form for an individual is usually decided by the individual and their GP. However, there are side effects to medication, which would be discussed by your prescribing GP.
  • Art therapies (such as music, art, etc.) have been found to be effective – there are also the recently popular adult colouring books which are found to be effective in reducing stress!

With depression becoming all too common, I have written this particular blog simply to inform people about the condition, what it involves, and the forms of treatment available. I hope that this blog has been informative, and that people understand the condition better. Help can be found from your GP; and further information about the condition can be found through these well-informed websites listed below:

This is a short video that is easy to understand (for any age), explaining depression in simple terms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=178&v=XiCrniLQGYc

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/about-depression/?o=9109#.VtYQHo_XJYc

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