Depression by Dr Poppy Gibson
What is depression?
Depression is when low mood affects our daily function and behaviour. It is important to begin by noting that, as humans, it is totally normally to feel a range of emotions. It is normal to feel stressed sometimes, anxious about things, or sad. But when these feelings of low mood are persistent and lasting for a long time, such as weeks or months, or keep returning, and begin to affect our behaviours, then we need to consider whether these signs and symptoms could be depression.
What causes depression?
People with depression in the family may be more likely to have depression themselves. There may be events that happen such as job loss, a death in your network, or giving birth (postnatal depression), but depression may also present for no obvious reason.
What types of depression are there?
There are different types of depression, with the most common being clinical depression, psychotic depression and postnatal depression.
The symptoms of depression vary depending on the individual, and range from mild symptoms to severe symptoms, with both physical and mental symptoms occurring. Some of the possible symptoms of depression may be:
- Feeling very unhappy and lonely
- Losing interest in things around you
- Feeling anxious all the time
- Feeling tired and not sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of libido
- General physical aches and pains
- At its worst, people may have suicidal thoughts and think about ending their life
Treatment and interventions
Lifestyle changes such as keeping fit and active, eating healthily, reducing alcohol and quitting smoking may help. Self-help groups can also be useful.
Your treatment will depend on the severity of the depression. The NHS (2022) say:
- For mild depression, the GP may suggest that you wait to see if your mood improves on its own- this process is called ‘watchful waiting’ (NHS, 2022).
- If someone’s depression does not improve, then the intervention of ‘talking therapies’, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), may be used. The GP may also prescribe antidepressant medication (NHS, 2022).
- If someone’s depression is moderate or severe, the GP may recommend a combination of talking therapy and antidepressants. People with severe depression may be referred to a specialist mental health team for intensive specialist talking treatments and prescribed medicine (NHS, 2022).
Try the NHS quiz
If you are aged 16 or over, and worried about how you have been feeling, you can try this quiz on the NHS website:
This depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz can help you better understand how you've been feeling recently.
With each question, think about how you've been feeling over the last 2 weeks.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it's best to speak to someone.
You can call Samaritans free on 116 123 if you want to talk to someone now.
Read more about depression on the NHS website here:
NHS (2022) Depression. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/ (Accessed 23/11/2022)