Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
We all feel down and out every now and then but when you feel depressed for a number of days, weeks or even months, this is when it has become a serious illness. As a psychological condition, it can seriously impact your life, livelihood, health and can have serious long term effects.
Psychological symptoms of depression include:
- 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 getting any enjoyment out of life
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
Physical symptoms to look our for also are:
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Lack of energy
- Low sex drive (loss of libido)
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
- Disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning
Symptoms of depression can also affect your social life. Additional societal symptoms to look out for are:
- Not doing well at work
- Avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
- Neglecting your hobbies and interests
- Having difficulties in your home and family life
- Treatment for depression requires a combination of methods and lifestyle changes. Talking therapies and medication are the most common forms of treatment, but the balance of these will depend on the severity of your condition.
- If you have mild depression, your doctor may prefer to observe you and see whether it improves by itself. They may suggest lifestyle changes, such as introducing an exercise routine or self-help groups.
- Other options to consider, if your mild depression doesn’t seem to be improving is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Your doctor may also suggest taking antidepressants.
- Those suffering from moderate to severe depression usually require a combination of talking therapy and medication. If you have severe depression, your GP may refer you to a specialist mental health team.
- If you think you might be suffering from depression, come and visit an Ahmeys healthcare professional. Together, we can decide the best course of action for you.