down and "depressed" is a normal part of life.
But it's when this low mood is constant, whether something bad or sad is happening or not, that a person may be suffering from depression.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
Depression is common. Approximately one in five adults develop a mental health problem like depression every year.
There is no exact cause of depression. Some people may develop depression after an adverse life event such as bereavement or a divorce. In other cases, there may be no specific cause. There is a genetic link to depression, which means the tendency to develop it may run in the family.
Women tend to develop depression more often than men, particularly after childbirth and during the menopause.
On a chemical level, low levels of serotonin are seen in people with depression.
How to detect signs of depression?
Psychological symptoms of depression are: continuous low mood or sadness - feeling hopeless and helpless - having low self-esteem - feeling tearful - feeling guilt-ridden - feeling irritable and intolerant of others - having no motivation or interest in things - finding it difficult to make decisions - not enjoying the things in life that you used to - thoughts of harming yourself - thoughts of suicide.
Physical symptoms of depression are: poor sleep, difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night and early morning - low energy levels - reduced appetite or overeating - loss of sex drive - unexplained aches and pains.
Social symptoms of depression are: social isolation - relationship problems - poor performance at work - drug and alcohol misuse.
Despite depression being so common, unfortunately, it is often misunderstood. I frequently see patients with depression who blame themselves and view it as a personal failure. I cannot stress enough that depression is a medical condition. Like all medical conditions, it needs to be recognised and treated thoroughly with the appropriate treatment.
Unfortunately, the treatment and recovery is often a longer process than other medical conditions, however, it can be overcome. Often the hardest part is recognising your symptoms and seeking help. Your GP is your first port of call. Depression is one of the most common health problems GPs see, so please don't feel hesitant when it comes to contacting your doctor. Treatment often takes a dual approach of medication and psychological therapy.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs such as sertraline and citalopram are the first line treatment of depression. They work by preventing the reuptake of serotonin in the brain so the levels rise.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a messenger chemical that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain). It's thought to have a good influence on mood, emotions and sleep.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a psychological therapy that is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD and anger management.
The principle of CBT involves understanding how thought processes lead to behaviour. The aim of treatment is to help the patient develop a strategy to initially recognise the trigger to their symptoms and then take action to control them.
A combination of medication and CBT is the effective way of treating depression.
Lifestyle Changes: exercise, which naturally releases endorphins to lift mood and give a natural high - healthy eating – rest, adequate sleep and relaxation time, making time for you, whether that's reading, walking or gym. Taking time out for yourself can help you relax and refocus.