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Dealing with depression

Dealing with depression

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Stefano Mirabello, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 11 Sep 2023
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Table of contents
OverviewWhat is Depression?What causes Depression?Symptoms of DepressionTypes of DepressionTreatment OptionsLifestyle changesHow to support someone with depressionHow to help yourself with depressionSources

Depression is a common mental health issue that can greatly impact someone’s life. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. It is more than just feeling sad or “down in the dumps” and can profoundly interfere with daily life. It affects how you think, feels and act. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available for depression. This blog post will discuss the different types of depression and the various treatments available.

What is Depression?

Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, low mood, apathy, hopelessness and helplessness, fatigue, changes in sleep or appetite patterns, poor concentration, low self-esteem and thoughts of death or suicide.

While everyone experiences some level of sadness from time to time, if those feelings become more intense or last for an extended period (two weeks or longer), you may be suffering from depression. It can cause intense sadness and emptiness, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation and changes in appetite.

Depression affects a person’s physical and mental health, as well as their thoughts, behaviour and emotions. In addition, depression may also interfere with one’s ability to go about daily activities like work, school or even engaging with family or friends. It can be incapacitating at times, many people experience different levels of depression throughout their lives.

What causes Depression?

There is no one cause for depression. A combination of genetic predisposition, certain medical conditions such as thyroid disease or hormonal imbalances, traumatic life events or loss, substance abuse issues or other environmental factors such as social isolation or stress causes it.

It’s important to remember that depression isn’t something that you should feel ashamed about. It’s an illness like any other physical illness that requires treatment and support to manage properly.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a mental health condition that can range from mild to severe and varies in terms of its presentation and impact on day-to-day life.

  • Mild depression typically involves symptoms such as feeling down and sad, losing interest in activities and fluctuating moods
  • Moderate depression is more serious and may cause symptoms such as problems with concentration, appetite changes, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty making decisions and insomnia
  • Severe depression is the most extreme form that can lead to extreme behavioural changes with feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, this requires immediate medical attention for diagnosis and treatment

No matter the type or severity, seeking professional help for depression can be an effective way to find symptom relief.

Depression can manifest in physical symptoms as well. These include:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Stomach problems
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Back pain
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Tightness of muscles in the jaw or neck area
  • Frequent trembling

It is important to remember that physical ailments, even seemingly minor ones like fatigue or headaches can indicate other health issues such as depression. That is why it’s essential to pay attention to changes in your body and talk to a physician if you feel the symptoms have a noticeable effect on your daily life. Your doctor may have advice or resources for managing physical symptoms of depression if it lies at the root of your distress.

Types of Depression

Depression can take many forms, including major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (PDD), clinical depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and more. Each form of depression has its own symptoms that may require specific treatment options. It’s important to understand the type of depression you are dealing with to get the best possible care.

Treatment Options

Depression is a serious condition that can lead to lasting consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available that can help you manage symptoms and reclaim your life. The most common approach mental health experts recommend is medication in combination with therapy.

Medication

Medications used for treating depression are termed antidepressants and can take up to eight weeks before their full effect is felt. Antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are three classes of antidepressant medications commonly used in reducing symptoms of depression.

SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain associated with happiness and well-being, while SNRIs increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Tricyclics generally block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain to allow more of those chemicals to stay active in the brain longer.

Different types of SSRI, SNRI and tricyclic medications exist. Your doctor may choose one depending on the severity or type of depression you have and will customise a treatment plan for each patient. All three types have potential side effects. However, patients should consult their healthcare provider when balancing the risks versus benefits of various antidepressants.

Cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy carried out by a qualified mental health professional, it has been proven successful in treating depression.

CBT works by helping individuals develop strategies for understanding their thoughts and behaviours associated with them. During sessions, the therapist will work with the patient to identify problematic beliefs and challenge negative thinking. In turn, create new ways of thinking that promote more positive behaviour during difficult times. The patient and therapist then practice journal writing, conversations, role-playing and other activities to help manage distressed feelings.

Essential CBT components include exploring how negative thoughts are connected to feelings and actions, learning self-management skills for overcoming depression and examining one’s thought processes to reshape beliefs constructively. CBT focuses on finding solutions rather than analysing past experiences, making it a long-lasting tool for recovery.

With the right treatment plan tailored to an individual’s needs, a person living with depression may experience symptom reduction or even remission of their depressive symptoms. This ultimately allows people struggling with depression to lead more vibrant lives.

In addition, CBT also emphasises the importance of ongoing self-care, such as exercise, healthy eating and quality sleep to sustain a positive outlook. As with any therapy, it may take more than one session to get through negative thought patterns. However, with patience, CBT can be a great support system in treating depression and providing long-term mental stability.

Lifestyle changes

If you are dealing with depression, making lifestyle changes can be a powerful and effective way to manage your condition. While medication and therapy can be extremely helpful in managing symptoms, changing your daily life and habits can provide additional benefits. Let’s look at some changes you can make to help manage depression.

Getting Enough Sleep

One of the most important things you can do if you are dealing with depression is to get enough sleep. You should aim to get 8 hours of sleep each night and nap during the day if needed. Getting enough rest helps regulate mood and can improve your overall mental health.

Eating Healthy

Eating a balanced diet is also key for managing depression. Eating foods that contain essential vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids can help improve overall mental health by providing the body with what it needs to function optimally. Additionally, cutting back on processed foods and sugary treats may help reduce inflammation and improve mood.

Exercising Regularly

Regular exercise has been proven to be an effective tool for reducing symptoms of depression. Exercise increases endorphins, which are responsible for boosting mood and increasing energy levels. Even 30 minutes of walking or biking daily can significantly impact overall mental health. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is one of the best ways to manage symptoms of depression in the long term.

How to support someone with depression

Supporting someone with depression can be a challenging but worthwhile task. It’s important to remember that being supportive is not the same as providing advice; instead, it’s about being available to listen and offer comfort.

Make sure you create an environment of acceptance and understanding and allow them to express their emotions. It’s okay to be patient when communicating and not pressure them into doing things they’re uncomfortable with.

Be mindful of language so as not to make assumptions or judge how the person feels – instead, focus on letting them know you care about their well-being.

Alongside emotional support, offering practical help – like helping with errands or chores can make them feel less overwhelmed.

Ultimately, listening attentively and being present for your friend or loved one is one of the best ways to show support for those struggling with depression.

How to help yourself with depression

Seek Professional Help

If you think you may be suffering from depression, the first step is to seek professional help. Depression is a medical condition and should be treated by a qualified healthcare provider or mental health specialist who can diagnose your condition and recommend appropriate treatments. This could include talk therapy (psychotherapy), medication or both. Working with a qualified professional allows you to learn coping strategies that will help improve your quality of life and reduce symptoms of depression. On the NHS, counselling usually takes place over six to 12 sessions, each an hour long. The sessions are confidential.

Develop Healthy Habits

In addition to seeing a therapist or taking medication if prescribed, it’s essential to develop healthy habits that will help manage your depression symptoms. Eating nutritious meals regularly, exercising regularly (even if it’s just walking around the block each day), getting enough sleep each night (7-9 hours), avoiding drugs and alcohol, and engaging in activities that bring joy are all good ways to keep yourself feeling healthy and balanced. Additionally, developing positive relationships with friends and family members can provide support during hard times.

Create a Routine

Creating a routine for yourself is also important in managing depression. Structure in your day-to-day life can help give you some sense of control over what may seem like an unpredictable situation. Make sure to include activities such as exercise, hobbies, spending time with family and friends and even something as simple as taking a walk each day – anything that helps keep you active and engaged in life so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the negative emotions associated with depression.

Connect With Others

Social isolation is one of the most common signs of depression, so it’s important to connect with people face-to-face who care about you regularly – whether it’s family members or close friends who understand what you’re going through or joining group activities such as support groups or art classes where you can meet new people with similar interests or struggles as yours, who may be able to offer advice from their own experiences that could help put things back into perspective for you too when needed.

Get Adequate Sleep

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk of developing depression and other mental disorders. If you struggle with getting enough sleep, set a consistent schedule that allows for 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and sticks to it as closely as possible, even on weekends. Additionally, avoid using electronic devices before bedtime as they emit blue light, which interferes with melatonin production, a hormone necessary for restful sleep.

Spend Time Outdoors

Fresh air has been found to significantly reduce stress levels while connecting with nature has been linked with improved mood and wellness due to its calming effects on the body and mind. So try spending some time outdoors whenever possible, even if it’s just 10 minutes each day, by going for walks around your neighbourhood or visiting local parks/woodlands/beaches etc. Make sure to take along some companions (e.g. friends/pets) if possible, as socialising during outdoor activities further enhances the relaxation benefits associated with being outside.

Join a support group

Joining a support group or online community can be a great way to help cope with depression. They provide a safe place to talk and get advice from people who have also gone through similar struggles. It is also an opportunity to receive social support that can aid healing.

It can be beneficial to contact helplines like the Samaritans, who offer free and confidential support and a helpline if you find it hard to open up about your feelings with people close to you. Websites, groups and communities are available on social media, providing reassurance and comfort and enabling people to share their experiences anonymously.

If you’re struggling with depression, know that you’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from depression worldwide, but there is hope. Depression is a treatable condition; you can get better with a healthcare professional’s help. Don’t suffer in silence – if you think you may be depressed, reach out for help.

Sources

Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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