Depression

Depression Fact sheet

Depression is more than just feeling a little blue, it’s a term used when someone has been feeling consistently sad for several weeks and months. It can effect anyone, at any age, in many different ways with a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

Symptoms can be varied and complex, feelings of unhappiness, tearfulness, hopelessness, and loosing interest in things that may have once brought joy. As well as physical symptoms, tiredness, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite and sex drive, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

Life-changing events are common trigger factors for depression, such as bereavement, loosing a job, a relationship break up, or having a baby.

Many people with symptoms of depression also have the symptoms of anxiety.

It’s important to seek medical help, and get a proper diagnosis with a practitioner, in order to work out the best possible treatment plan.

Symptoms can be varied and complex.

Psychological symptoms

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless & helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable & 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
  • suicidal thoughts & self-harm

Physical symptoms

  • changes in appetite & weight
  • aches & pains, often unexplained
  • moving or speaking more slowly
  • constipation
  • tiredness
  • change in sleep pattern, disturbed sleep, insomnia,
  • changes to menstrual cycle
  • loss of libido

Other symptoms include

  • isolating behaviour
  • avoiding social situations
  • lack of interest in hobbies

Seeking help from a GP is the first step in getting diagnosed, especially if you have been experiencing symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks. The GP may be able to rule out other conditions.

Depression is treatable

It’s important to seek medical help as soon as you can, and get a proper diagnosis with a practitioner, in order to work out the best possible treatment plan.

  • It helps to talk to someone about your feelings.
  • It’s important to try and participate in regular exercise, develop a regular eating & sleeping pattern.
  • Stay connected with friends & family.
  • Try to avoid, or better still, restrict alcohol intake.

A GP will discuss the most appropriate treatment options for a patient diagnosed with depression.

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies and prescribed medication, but mild depression may improve by itself over time.

Psychological interventions are similar to those for anxiety and may include, 

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Counselling
  • Self-help courses are other ways to help.
  • There is evidence that shows that exercise helps with the treatment of depression.
  • With severe depression, a course of antidepressants may be prescribed.

It’s important to seek medical help as soon as you can, and get a proper diagnosis with a practitioner, in order to work out the best possible treatment plan.

Prescription Medication

Antidepressants

Most people with moderate or severe depression benefit from antidepressants.

These may be:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) or (SNRIs) Serotonin-Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors.

Mindfulness has been identified by NICE (National Institute of Care and Excellence) as a way of preventing depression. The aim is to develop a better understanding of your mind and body, and learn how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.

Breathing exercises for stress & anxiety can also benefit.

Herbal remedy St John’s Wort plant extract. There is some evidence that it may help mild to moderate depression. It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before taking it.

Research / Evidence