WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Depression is the experience of a low mood for a prolonged period of time. Unlike the occasional bout of feeling down or sad, which affects us all from time to time, it will affect your daily life and can make it hard for you to find enjoyment in your day-to-day activities. On some days it may be impossible to get out of bed but on others you may be better able to hide your feelings and carry out your normal daily tasks.

At Dr Julian, we are particularly concerned about conditions such as depression because of its ability to appear in milder forms that can escalate when not treated. Depression affects one in four adults in the UK during their lifetime and varies in its severity. You can suffer specific types of depression. For example after giving birth you can experience Post-Natal Depression or you may just get depression in the winter months due to shorter days in which case you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).


SIGNS OF DEPRESSION

  • Little or no self-confidence
  • Feeling down with no clear or particular cause
  • A sense of isolation
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Physical effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite and loss of interest in sex

Severe symptoms include

  • Self-harming or desire to self-harm
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Reliance on substances (alcohol, tobacco or illegal street drugs)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Losing or gaining weight without clear cause
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression can be experienced for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is a clear cause whilst at other times there is no obvious reason for feeling down. It can stem from distressing life events such as death, family problems, divorce or losing a job which are all huge events in our lives and can affect our mood. These and other examples are explored more below.

  • Giving Birth: A huge life-changing event such as having a child can cause Post-Natal Depression. It often takes time to adapt to parenthood and looking after a baby can be stressful and exhausting which in turn can lead to depression.
  • Bereavement: Losing someone close to you can make you feel low. It’s not just the loss that causes us to feel low, it’s how we deal with it. If you don’t express your feelings and grieve appropriately these feelings can build up and contribute to depression.
  • Anger: You may have experienced something that has caused you to be angry but at the time not expressed your feelings properly. If this anger gets suppressed it can build up and cause depression.
  • Physical Illness: Depression stems from an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Some types of physical illness such as thyroid problems can alter the levels of chemicals in our brain and cause depression. For some, living with a chronic illness like arthritis or a serious life threatening condition like cancer is really difficult and can cause depression.
  • Circumstances: Feeling physically exhausted or like you are alone and have no one to talk to can cause depression. Comparing yourself to others who you think may have better circumstances than you can lead to you feeling low.
  • Childhood Experiences: What happened to you as a child can affect your adult life. If you were emotionally or physically abused and have not been taught ways to cope with these troubles can also lead to problems in your adult life and depression.
  • The Season: Short days in the winter months can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This results from a lack of sunlight, which in turn can cause an imbalance of chemicals in our brains and can lead to depression.
  • Alcohol: Regular heavy drinking can lead to depression

WAYS YOU CAN TREAT DEPRESSION

  • Eat healthily and ensure your body is exposed to essential vitamins such as Vitamin C and D,
  • Get more sunlight or use a sunlamp when working for long hours indoors,
  • Sleep! A good nights sleep has been proven to directly improve symptoms of depression,
  • Quit smoking,
  • Reduce alcohol intake,
  • Speak to a therapist: There are many evidence based therapies that have been shown to treat depression such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Psychodynamic Therapy and Mindfulness Therapies.
  • Consider treatment with a Psychiatrist who can discuss possible medications to alleviate your symptoms.