Depression is a common condition. In the 2016 survey of health and wellbeing, 3.3 people out of every 100 were suffering from depression. It can be mild, moderate or severe. If you have depression you may feel unusually irritable or tired. Or you might have thoughts about self-harm or suicide.
Depression is sometimes difficult to spot. Because, unlike a broken arm or leg, you might not have symptoms that people can see. This might lead to close family and friends failing to offer support when it’s needed.
Symptoms of depression
A common symptom of depression is sadness. But, there are many other symptoms you might experience, and these include:
- Not taking pleasure in things you usually enjoy
- Distancing yourself from family and friends
- Wanting to curl up and stay in bed all-day
- Feeling anxious and/or worthless
- Not being able to concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed and alone
If you feel sad and you think you might have depression it’s important to talk to someone if you can. The mental health charity, Mind, confirm that every year 1 out of 4 people will experience a mental health problem.
One of the tips Mind give for coping with depression is to talk to friends, family or your doctor. By talking, people around you will know you’re feeling depressed and they will be able to offer support.
Causes of depression
There isn’t only one cause for depression. Some of the causes of depression include:
- Other health problems you might have. You could be suffering from reduced mobility or problems with chronic pain
- Experiences you had in childhood. Abuse, neglect or the loss of someone you were close to can affect you as an adult
- Divorce, separation or the loss of your job can leave you feeling worthless
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Your lifestyle, including your ability to sleep and eat well
Ways you can help yourself
If you don’t want to confide in your doctor there are other ways to help you cope with depression. If you feel able to, pick something that you feel comfortable doing. It could be adult colouring, knitting or crochet, doing the crossword or gardening. Try and do it every day, but don’t worry if there are days when you don’t feel up to it. Be kind to yourself.
What to do
- Make a mood book – write down how you feel each day. If something has made you smile, put it in the book so you can remember it. A mood book might help you to pinpoint events or things that make you depressed
- Get outdoors. A recent study in the UK looked at how getting out into the countryside might improve mental health. It found that people with depression could benefit from a green environment. So, if you are able, take a walk in the park, join a walking group take up a hobby like geo-caching
- Mindfulness – NICE recommends mindfulness as a way to look after your mental health. Their brochure gives details of a free online mindfulness course. There are also other therapies you might like to try
- Cut down on your alcohol intake and get professional advice if you use drugs
Letting other people help you
You shouldn’t be ashamed if you have depression. Mixed anxiety and depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in Britain. This is according to statistics published by the Mental Health Foundation.
There are many types of help available both privately and on the NHS. Therapies can include talking to mental health professionals or taking online courses. You can discuss treatment options with your doctor. He or she may prescribe medication or talking therapy. You can decide what treatment you prefer. It’s up to you, don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
You can find further information and help about depression on the following websites:
- Mind – Mind is a mental health charity. You can find advice online. There are also local supported services including drop-in centres and counselling.
- Anxiety UK – is a charity which helps people suffering from an anxiety condition. As well as having a website, they also work with other agencies and support groups at local level.
- NHS Moodzone – The Moodzone website deals with depression, anxiety and stress. You can fill in the Moodzone assessment quiz. And, you can access information about treatment as well as tips and advice.