Depression is one of the most common mental health issues faced by people of all ages and backgrounds and is characterised as a low mood that lasts for weeks, months or even longer, and affects your day-to-day life.
Having depression can make you lose interest in life, and in the things that typically make you happy, like work, hobbies, or personal projects.
Depression can make everything seem more difficult to do and, at its worst, can lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations.
It is often characterised into mild, moderate, or severe depression, depending on the level of impact it is having on your life, and may determine what sort of treatment you are offered. It is possible to move between the three stages in one episode of depression.
Types Of Depression
This is the most common type of depression, it varies in severity, and could last days, weeks or month. Some people may have a single episode of depression, others may suffer throughout their lives.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)) is a type of depression that occurs in a particular time (or season) in the year. For example, it is often more prominent in the Winter months, but improves for many in Spring, possibly due to the change that natural light has on our bodies’ rhythms.
Dysthymia is continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or longer, it is also known as chronic depression.
Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental health illness that causes extreme emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression), which alter how someone behaves. It manifests itself in episodes, which tend to last for several weeks or longer.
Psychotic depression can involve the sufferer hallucinating – meaning you hear, smell, see, feel, or taste things that don’t actually exist. Delusions are also common, in which you truly believe in something that’s obviously false or simply makes no sense. These feelings and beliefs seem completely real to those who have psychotic episodes as part of their depression.
Situational depression is a type of depression brought on by a stressful or traumatic life event, like a bereavement, the end of a relationship, a serious illness, financial difficulties, or a job redundancy.
Pregnancy related depression
Perinatal depression is a disorder that can begin when you discover you’re pregnant, and last until around a year after giving birth. It encompasses both antenatal depression (depression while you’re pregnant) and postnatal depression. Postnatal depression usually develops within six weeks of giving birth.
Symptoms Of Depression
These are some of the most common signs of depression:
You might feel:
- down, low, helpless, tearful or upset
- empty and numb
- lonely, isolated and unable to relate to other people
- agitated, restless or irritable
- guilty and regretful
- unable to take pleasure in things you usually enjoy
- lacking in self-confidence or self-esteem
- hopeless and despairing
- paranoid and marginalised
- physically and mentally exhausted
You might experience:
- a loss of appetite and, therefore, weight loss – or even the opposite, an increase in appetite and weight gain
- a need to sleep more than usual, or a difficulty in getting out of bed, you could, however, experience the opposite and struggle to sleep at all
- a desire to avoid social events, and stop taking part in activities you used to enjoy
- poor attendance at school, work or clubs
- self-harming or suicidal behaviour
- a loss of interest in sex
- physical aches with no obvious causes
- a difficulty in remembering things, or concentrating on tasks
- a struggle to think, speak or make decisions
- an increase in your intake of alcohol, drugs or tobacco
Causes Of Depression
These are some of the common causes of depression:
Your chances of developing depression are increased if a parent or sibling suffers or has suffered from it.
If you have a long-term or life-threatening illness like cancer or heart disease, you’re at greater risk of developing depression. Head injuries are also known to cause depression and mood swings.
Going through challenging times in your life, such as the end of a relationship, a bereavement or a redundancy can take time to come to terms with.
Those with low self-esteem are more likely to experience depression at some point in their life.
Isolation, being cut off or far away from loved ones, or the recent loss of a life partner can bring on depression.
The fluctuation of hormones, combined with changes to both your life and your body, can make pregnant women and those who have recently given birth susceptible to depression.
Experiencing a traumatic event such as abuse, bullying or a bereavement can lead to depression.
Drugs and alcohol
Drugs and alcohol are commonly known to contribute to spirals of depression, especially when people try to “drown their sorrows” by drinking or taking drugs to help them escape from the struggles of life.
How To Cope With Depression
Experiencing depression can be very difficult, but there are steps you can take that might help:
- Talk to someone you trust, it may be hard to start talking about your feelings but just sharing your experiences can really help
- Talk to a trained Counsellor who will help you to work through the causes and effects of your depression
- Look after your physical health, exercise is known to help with depression
- Keep a mood diary so that you can track changes in your mood and what triggers them
- Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health issues like depression
- Practice self-care and mindfulness, take time for yourself, find things that you like doing, and try to improve your quality of life
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