WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Learn to spot the signs and symptoms of depression early.

Spotting the symptoms of depression as soon as possible is very important, whether it’s in yourself, a family member, a friend or a work mate.

It is recommended that anyone suffering from any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks should contact their GP urgently for the appropriate help. Do not confuse depression with a bad day or being disappointed about something as these feelings usually clear up quickly and don’t affect your daily life.

It is important to realise that therapeutic intervention will begin to make up to 80% of suffers will see an improvement in a matter of weeks and months

Signs and symptoms of depression…

People suffering depression may experience one or more of the following;

  • a sadness which does not lift

  • crying a lot

  • feeling alone

  • a loss of confidence in abilities

  • difficulty in making decisions

  • an inability to concentrate

  • a difficulty with falling asleep or waking up frequently and not able to get back to sleep, or sleeping too much and finding it difficult to get out of bed

  • a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

  • feeling guilty about things which are not their fault

  • wishing they were dead

  • poor concentration

  • moving around slowly

  • being agitated and cannot settle

  • loss of interest in food and weight loss or eating too much and weight gain

When the person visits their GP he/she will assess the number and severity of the symptoms and diagnose the depression to be mild, moderate or severe and this will help determine treatment.

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

There is no single cause of depression. It can occur for a variety of reasons and has many triggers.

Stressful life events, such as bereavement, illness, redundancy, job or money worries, a divorce or separation or a number of other different causes can combine to trigger depression.

For example, you may feel low after being ill and then experience a traumatic event, such as bereavement these two things combined can bring on depression.

There may also be a “downward spiral” of events that leads to depression. An example could be if your relationship with your partner breaks down, you are likely to feel low, you may then stop seeing friends and family and you may then start drinking more. The combination of all of this may make you feel worse and trigger depression.

Studies have also suggested that you may more likely to get depression as you get older, and that it’s more common in people who live in difficult social and economic circumstances.

Here are a few of the potential triggers of depression; (there are many others not listed below)

Stressful events

People usually take time to come to terms with stressful events, such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown. When these stressful events occur, your risk of becoming depressed is increased if you isolate yourself from your friends and family and try to deal with your problems by yourself.

Personality

Certain personality traits make you more vulnerable to depression. These include low self-esteem or being overly self-critical. This may be as a result of the genes you’ve inherited from your parents, your early life experiences, or a combination of both.

Family history

If a close relative such as a parent, sister or brother has had severe depression in the past, there is the possibility that you too could also develop it.

Giving birth

Some women are particularly vulnerable to depression after pregnancy. This is as a result of the hormonal and physical changes, as well as the added responsibility of a new life. This can lead can lead to a certain type of depression called postnatal depression. Postnatal depression should pass in a few weeks but if not, you should contact your GP.

Loneliness

Living alone, the loss of a spouse or partner, becoming cut off from your family and friends can all increase your risk of depression.

Alcohol and drugs

Sometimes when life is getting them down, some people try to cope by drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. This can result in a spiral of depression.

Cannabis may help you relax, but there’s evidence that it can also bring on depression, especially in teenagers.

Drowning your sorrows” with a drink is also not a good idea! Alcohol is in fact a “strong depressant”, which actually makes the depression worse.

Illness

A person may have a higher risk of depression if they have been diagnosed or are dealing with a longstanding or life-threatening illness, such as coronary heart diseasecancer or stroke etc.

Head injuries are also an often under-recognised cause of depression. A severe head injury has the potential to trigger mood swings and emotional problems, or have longer lasting effects that alter a person’s capacity to live life as they once did.

Some people may have an as yet un-diagnosed underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) resulting from problems with their immune system. In rarer cases, a minor head injury can damage the pituitary gland, which is a pea-sized gland at the base of your brain that produces thyroid-stimulating hormones. This may cause a number of symptoms, such as extreme tiredness and a lack of interest in sex (loss of libido), which can also lead to depression.

COPING WITH BEREAVEMENT/SUICIDE

Depression can often take hold after bereavements and suicides.

It is important to realise that EVERYOVE IS DIFFERENT and you need to find what works for you! It is important to realise that:

It’s okay to grieve…

Losing a loved one in this way is like having a major amputation without anaesthetic. It is impossible to describe the pain, knowing our loved one cannot return is life-changing.  It’s okay to grieve!

It’s okay to cry…

Tears help release the food of sorrow which occurs from missing your loved one. They help you “level off” and get back into the stream of life. It’s okay to cry!

It’s okay to heal…

There is no need to prove you loved the person you have lost.  As time passes you will be able to move on without grieving outwards each day.  Do not feel “guilty” it does not mean you love them less. It is a healthy sign of healing. It’s Okay to heal!

It’s okay to laugh…

Laughter does not mean “less grief” or “less love”.  It is a sign that lots of our thoughts and memories are happy ones. Hold on to these positive memories, our loved ones would love us to laugh again. It’s okay to laugh!

If you, or a close friend or family member, are having suicidal thoughts please speak to someone. MYMY is here to help from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Monday to Thursday so please give us a ring during these times or leave a message on our answering machine and someone will get back to you.

If you are in crisis outside MYMY opening hours please contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000

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